As religious groups across the nation lobby to have new laws passed to ensure their right to discriminate against the LGBT community, Democrats and even some Republicans are moving to ensure the LGBT kids, at least, are protected from bullying and violence.
The only new Democrat in the U.S. Senate after the 2014 election is Michigan’s own Gary Peters. Peters announced today that he is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation to prevent bullying of LGBT kids.
Although federal civil rights laws explicitly ban discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin, they do not protect Americans from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Because of this, LGBT students and parents are limited with regard to the legal steps they can take to address this kind of bullying and discrimination. This bill, called the “Student Non-Discrimination Act”, seeks to correct that.
Here’s what Senator Peters had to say about the new bill:
LGBT discrimination in our public schools isn’t just devastating for students, it harms our entire education system. Bullying impacts as many as seven in ten LGBT youth, and the consequences range from absenteeism and academic underachievement to increased dropout rates and suicide. I support these new protections because no student – in Michigan or any state across the country – should have to fear being bullied because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
This is really a big deal, particularly since we now have members of the U.S. Senate not only acknowledging gender identity as a thing but also that kids who don’t fit into our traditional and largely outdated societal norms with regard to gender identity are just as worthy of being protected from harm as any other kids.
The Student Non-Discrimination Act would:
- Establish a comprehensive federal prohibition of discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Provide protections for LGBT students and ensure that all students have access to public education in a safe environment free from discrimination, including harassment, bullying, intimidation and violence.
- Provide meaningful and effective remedies (loss of federal funding and legal cause of action for victims) for discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, modeled after Title IX.
Kudos to Senator Peters. Michigan is well represented by him. You can be sure that Terri Lynn WhatsHerName would never have supported legislation like this had she been elected.
[Photo credit: Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog]