By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com January 27 2010 5:45 PM ET
Rep. Jared Polis introduced a bill Wednesday to protect LGBT students against discrimination in schools.
The Student Non-Discrimination Act will mimic Title VI, which banned discrimination in schools against racial minorities, as well as Title IX, which similarly protected girls and women from being excluded from programs and scholastic opportunities on the basis of their gender. It currently has 60 original cosponsors.
“Every day innocent students fall victim to relentless harassment and discrimination from teachers, staff, and fellow students based on their sexual orientation,” Polis said in a statement. “These actions not only hurt our students and our schools but, left unchecked, can also lead to life-threatening violence.
“Hatred has no place in the classroom,” Polis added. “Every student has the right to an education free from harassment and violence. This bill will protect the individual freedoms of our students and enshrine the values of equality and opportunity in our classrooms.”
Christopher Anders of the American Civil Liberties Union said the bill was overdue. "Many LGBT students face harassment, discrimination, and sometimes violence in our schools. Our public schools should not be places of exclusion, but places where students feel safe and free from discrimination," he said in a statement.
More than 15 civil rights and education organizations are supporting the bill, including the ACLU, School Social Work Association of America, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network.
Polis, who is one of three openly gay Congress members, is a member of the House Education and Labor Committee as well as cochairman of the House LGBT Equality Caucus.