Richmond Congressman Bobby Scott patrons bill to protect LGBTQ youth in public schools nation wide
An LGBT anti-discrimination bill directed at public elementary and high schools has been reintroduced into the House of Representatives by Richmond Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).
Titled the Student Non-Discrimination Act, the bill (HB998) would “prohibit public schools from discriminating against any student on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”
“Evidence shows that discrimination against LGBT students deprives them of equal educational opportunities by increasing their likelihood of skipping school, under performing academically, and dropping out,” said Rep. Scott, who is also a ranking Democratic member on the House Education and the Workforce Committee which will help decide the fate of the bill. “School must be a place where all students feel welcome and safe to thrive.”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, has praised the bill as a critical step, seeing as LGBT youth are twice as likely to experience verbal and physical assault as their peers.
David Stacey, HRC Government Affairs Director, urged congress to quickly pass the legislation, believing the bill could make a “quick and immediate” difference on the lives of LGBT youth.
“No student should face discrimination or harassment at school just because of who they are or who they are perceived to be,” said Stacey in a press release sent out this morning supporting the new legislation.
LGBT students are often the focus of discrimination and bullying, the effects of which can last well into adulthood. Studies have demonstrated discrimination in schools has contributed to high rates of absenteeism, dropout , adverse health consequences and academic underachievement among LGBT youth .
Based on a 2012 survey conducted by HRC, 51 percent of LGBT students have been verbally harassed at school, compared to 25 percent among non-LGBT students; 48 percent say they are often excluded by their peers because they are different, compared to 26 percent among non-LGBT students; and 17 percent report they have been physically attacked at school, compared to 10 percent among non-LGBT students.
In addition to preventing the discrimination of students based on real or perceived notions of sexuality or gender identity, the bill also allows for those who are made victims of discrimination to take legal action against the school for violating the rule. Similar to a Title IX violation, a school could also lose federal funding if they do not address the discrimination complaint.
Rep. Polis first introduced the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) in 2010. During the 112th Congress, the Obama Administration took an official position on the SNDA , stating their support. The bill is expected to hit the House floor soon, and was introduced into the Senate by Senator Al Franken (D-MN), where it is also expect to hit the floor.
Top image – Congressman Scott (left) attends renewal of vows for Carol Schall and Mary Townley in Oct. 2014
Tyler Hammel is a college student who has an unhealthy obsession with comic books. He’s a proud cinephile, owning a sizable film collection that lets you know he doesn't have any friends. An aspiring filmmaker, Tyler currently works with the VCU student organization The Horn RVA, a group of like-minded video journalists with a passion for Richmond based music. When not crafting his own bio Tyler can be found misusing commas,
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