Friday, May 21, 2010

Senators Franken And Gillibrand Introduce Anti-TBLG Bullying Act

I mentioned that one of the three openly gay members of the House, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced HR 4530, the Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2010 back in January.

Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have introduced the Senate version of the legislation aimed at combating anti-LGBT bullying in public schools.

The bill, known as the Student Non-Discrimination Act, currently has 21 Senate cosponsors and "would establish a comprehensive federal prohibition against discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity," according to a press release from Sen. Gillibrand's office. "It would forbid schools from discriminating against LGBT students or ignoring harassing behavior."

Penalties for public schools that fail to address anti-gay bullying could include loss of federal funding and legal recourse for students who have suffered discrimination.

Sen. Franken indicated last month that he would introduce an anti-bullying bill when he criticized current laws during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing.

“There’s something very specific that has been on my mind ... LGBT youth being bullied,” Franken told a panel of education experts in the April hearing. “Right now we have laws that prohibit bullying based on pretty much everything, but not on gender identity and gay and lesbian kids. And the evidence is that gay kids are bullied a lot and that their achievement goes down. There’s a lot of absenteeism and even suicide.”

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