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Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) Introduces Federal Safe Schools Bill

This is long overdue and important legislation.


The sponsor of a bill that would bar discrimination against LGBT students in schools across the country envisions passage of the legislation as part of an upcoming education budget bill.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), a gay lawmaker, told DC Agenda last week he’s planning to push for inclusion of his legislation as a component of the Elementary & Secondary Education Act authorization bill this year or early next year.

“I think that we will look to get it included in the ESEA reauthorization, which is the main education bill,” he said. “I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to include some protections for gay and lesbian students in the bill.”

A member of the House Education & Labor Committee, Polis said the panel could take up discussion on his legislation this year when hearings begin on the ESEA reauthorization.

Polis introduced last week standalone legislation known as the Student Non-Discrimination Act, or H.R. 4530. The bill would bar discrimination against LGBT students in elementary and secondary schools. Additionally, the legislation would bar discrimination against students for associating with an LGBT person.

The new measure is based on Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in education programs or activities receiving federal funds.

Polis said the legislation would give schools across the country tools to fight against discrimination that includes “everything from exclusion from prom, to banning clubs, to lack of actions addressing bullying situations.”

From Polis’ site:

“Every day innocent students fall victim to relentless harassment and discrimination from teachers, staff, and fellow students based on their sexual orientation,” said Polis.  

“These actions not only hurt our students and our schools but, left unchecked, can also lead to life-threatening violence.  Like Title VI for minorities in the 60s and Title IX for women in the 70s, my legislation puts LGBT students on an equal footing with their peers, so they can attend school and get a quality education, free from fear.”

“Hatred has no place in the classroom,” said Polis.  “Every student has the right to an education free from harassment and violence.  This bill will protect the individual freedoms of our students and enshrine the values of equality and opportunity in our classrooms.”

So far, the bill has 60 original co-sponsors and support from many organizations around the country.

The SNDA is has broad support from over 15 civil rights and education organizations, including:
The American Association of University Women, American Civil Liberties Union, American Counseling Association, Gay-Straight Alliance Network, GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders), GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Center for Lesbian Rights,  National Center for Transgender Equality, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, National Women’s Law Center, School Social Work Association of America, and Transgender Law Center.

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