Senate Introduces LGBT Student Antibullying Bill
BY Advocate.com Editors
May 20 2010 5:15 PM ET
Democratic senators Al Franken and Kirsten Gillibrand have introduced legislation aimed at combating anti-LGBT bullying in public schools.
The bill, known as the Student Non-Discrimination Act, "would establish a comprehensive federal prohibition
against discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived
sexual orientation or gender identity," according to a press release
from Gillibrand's office. "It would forbid schools from discriminating
against LGBT students or ignoring harassing behavior."
Penalties for public schools that fail to address antigay bullying could include loss of federal funding and legal recourse for students who have suffered discrimination.
A House version of the bill was introduced in January by Colorado representative Jared Polis, one of three openly gay members of Congress.
Franken indicated last month that he would introduce an antibullying bill when he criticized current laws during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing.
“There’s something very specific that has been on my mind ... LGBT youth being bullied,” Franken told a panel of education experts in the April hearing. “Right now we have laws that prohibit bullying based on pretty much everything, but not on gender identity and gay and lesbian kids. And the evidence is that gay kids are bullied a lot and that their achievement goes down. There’s a lot of absenteeism and even suicide.”
LGBT-identified youths are two to three times more likely to be the victims of harassment at school compared to their straight-identified peers, according to a 2010 study by Nationwide Children's Hospital.
The bill currently has 21 additional cosponsors in the Senate.
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