LGBT Student Protections Fall Short in Senate
Even though it failed, out Colorado Congressman Jared Polis is calling it "historic" that the U.S. Senate's voted on a measure protecting LGBT students from harassment.
Though an LGBT-specific amendment to the proposed Every Child Achieves Act only received 52 of the 60 votes needed to overcome the typical Senate gridlock, Polis says it's evidence Congress realizes it must do something about the country's beleaguered LGBT youth.
The amendment would have explicity forbade discrimination against actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender idenity in public schools, as well as taken action against officials who ignored harassing or bullying behavior.
Similar protections were also introduced as a stand-alone bill, the Student Non Discrimination Act, in February and authored by Polis, Congressman Robert Scott (D-VA), and GOP Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida; Minnesota Senator Al Franken authored a corresponding bill in the Senate. After being blocked by Republicans, the SNDA was then introduced as an amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act, failing on a 52-45 vote today.
Though unsuccessful again, Polis remains hopeful.
“Today, a majority of U.S. Senators recognized this truth by voting to end bullying against LGBT students," Polis said in a statement. "While it didn’t receive the 60 votes necessary for passage, this represents a giant step forward in our effort to make sure LGBT students have a safe and welcoming place to learn.”
The Human Rights Campaign struck a more defiant note. “Although a solid majority of Senators voted for this vital legislation, we are deeply disappointed that Republican leaders insisted on a super majority 60 vote threshold for passage,” HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy said in a statement.
Three-quarters of LGBT students report verbal harassment at school, according to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, while half report being bullied online, and more than a third face physical attacks or harassment.
CORRECTION: Senator Al Franken represents Minnesota.