Senator Al Franken introduces legal protections to help end LGBT discrimination in schools

The Student Non-Discrimination Act has been introduced by Senator Al Franken and 22 co-sponsors. The SNDA would prohibit discrimination in schools on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. It’s noted as an important step toward ensuring that all students are valued and respected and can learn in an environment free from harassment and discrimination.

According to GLSEN – the Senate version is a companion bill to H.R. 4530, introduced by Rep. Jared Polis in the House early this year. Rep. Polis’s bill currently has the support of over 100 representatives.

“GLSEN thanks Senator Franken and SNDA’s 22 Senate cosponsors for making a commitment to ensuring that LGBT students can learn without the fear of being discriminated against simply for who they are,” GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. “SNDA will send a clear message to schools that they must address the hostile environment many LGBT students face in schools.”

3/1/2008
Children of LGBT parents are typically harassed in school. A new report proves need for anti-bullying policies.

Current estimates indicate there are more than seven million LGBT parents with school-age children in the United States.

A new report called: Involved, Invisible, Ignored: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents and Their Children in Our Nation’s K-12 Schools, examines and highlights the school experiences of LGBT-headed families – using results from surveys of LGBT parents of children in K-12 schools and of secondary students who have LGBT parents.

It’s the first comprehensive report on the educational experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families.

One major conclusion found that LGBT parents are more likely to be involved in their children’s K-12 education than the general parent population. The details showed that we are more involved in school activities and more likely to practice consistent communication with school personnel.

The research was released by GLSEN, (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) – in partnership with the Family Equality Council and COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere).

Unfortunately, the data also indicates that both LGBT parents – and children of LGBT parents – experience harassment because of their family structure.

Among the key findings:

  • Nearly a quarter of students felt unsafe around other students at school due to others’ negative attitudes toward people with LGBT parents.
  • 42% of students said they had been verbally harassed at school in the past year because their parents were LGBT.
  • More than half of parents described various forms of exclusion from their school communities: being excluded or prevented from fully participating in school activities and events, being excluded by school policies and procedures, and being ignored and feeling invisible.
  • Parents whose child’s school had a comprehensive safe school policy that protected students from bullying and harassment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression/identity reported the lowest level of mistreatment and that there were no differences between the no-policy and generic-policy groups.

“I want my sons’ school environment to give them the opportunity to learn without harassment, and I want to be a welcomed and integral part of their educational experience as they grow,” said Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council. “This report shows when schools have anti-bullying policies that are inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity, the rates of harassment are lowered dramatically. These policies and comprehensive diversity curricula are tools that can curb mistreatment and bolster participation from all families. Knowing what works is a start, but schools have a long way to go and much left to do in putting them to the best and fullest use for our kids.”

About the Family Equality Council

The Family Equality Council (formerly Family Pride) is the national advocacy organization committed to securing family equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer parents, guardians and allies. Our work consists of strategically linked initiatives—broad in scope, but simple in vision—love, justice, family, equality.

About COLAGE

COLAGE is a national movement of children, youth, and adults with one or more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer (LGBTQ) parents. We build community and work toward social justice through youth empowerment, leadership development, education, and advocacy.

About GLSEN

GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. For more information on our educator resources, research, public policy agenda, student organizing programs or development initiatives.

Article adapted by ProudParenting.com from original press release.
Image Source: COLAGE.org

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