US: Anti-discrimination bill to protect LGBT students introduced in Congress
Two members of Congress introduced legislation which, if passed, would protect LGBT students against bullying and discrimination.
Representatives Jared Polis, an openly gay Democrat from Colorado, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican, introduced the bill on Thursday, named the Student Non-Discrimination Act.
If successful, the legislation would prohibit schools in receipt of public funding, from discriminating against LGBT students.
Ros-Lehtinen, who has a transgender son, and who, as a Republican is considered a rare ally for such a cause, told the Miami Herald: “Schools should be places where our kids can learn and thrive, and that are free from persecution and harassment,
“LGBT students are often verbally harassed due to their sexual orientation. It is important that we strive to make sure that LGBT students enjoy safety as all children do.
“We hope that every legislator, whether they’re Democrat or Republican can look at this bill in a sensible way and realize that this should be a class of folks that need protection,” she continued.
“Discrimination against LGBT students in public schools across this country is an unacceptable but daily reality.”
The measure also had over a hundred co-sponsors.
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Jared Polis in 2008, become the first out gay man elected to the US Congress as a non-incumbent. He won Colorado’s second Congressional District in the House of Representatives, beating Republican Scott Starin. He supported the Respect for Marriage Act, which sought to repeal DOMA.
Polis attempted to pass similar legislation in 2011, and cited surveys which indicated that as many as 80% of LGBT students had experienced harassment in schools because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
“We need to protect kids at school regardless of what adults think about the different ways that people live their lives,” he said.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, to end workplace discrimination, is also to be introduced in April by Congressman Polis, one of six openly gay or bisexual Representatives in this session of Congress.