NEW YORK - GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, praises the introduction today of the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA), a groundbreaking bill that would make discrimination in schools based on sexual orientation or gender identity/expression against the law.
Introduced by Rep. Jared Polis and 60 bipartisan cosponsors, SNDA would be a monumental step toward giving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and those perceived to be LGBT equal access to an education as every other student.
%93GLSEN commends Representative Jared Polis and the 60 bipartisan cosponsors for sending a clear message to schools across the country that LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT have the same rights and should be treated with the same dignity and respect as every other child,%94 GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard. %93Discrimination against students based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation is a pervasive problem and negatively affects the performance of many students.%94
Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students (86.2%) experience harassment at school because of their sexual orientation, and 60.8% feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, according to GLSEN's 2007 National School Climate Survey.
The harassment clearly affects students' ability to learn. A third of LGBT students (32.7%) missed a day of school in the past month because of feeling unsafe, 5 times higher than a national sample of all students.
"Discrimination of any kind is wrong," Byard said. "Far too many schools do nothing to address the hostile environments that LGBT students face. We owe it to our children to do everything we can to make sure that discrimination is eliminated from our schools."
SNDA is endorsed by many advocacy organizations including: GLSEN, American Association of University Women, American Civil Liberties Union, GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders), Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, School Social Work Association and Transgender Law Center.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.