Student Non-Discrimination Act
Every day, students who are (or are perceived to be) lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) are subjected to pervasive discrimination, including harassment, bullying, and violence. Surveys indicate that nearly nine out of ten LGBT students have been bullied, which contributes to their high rates of absenteeism, academic underachievement, and even higher rates of suicide. Shockingly, more than one-third of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth have attempted suicide.
While federal civil rights statutes clearly address discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, disability, and national origin, they do not explicitly include sexual orientation or gender identity. As a result, LGBT students and parents have limited legal recourse for this kind of discrimination.
Senator Franken introduced the Student Non-Discrimination Act to change this by establishing a comprehensive federal prohibition against discrimination and bullying in public schools based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Specifically, the bill would forbid schools from discriminating against LGBT students or ignoring harassing behavior. Fifty years of civil rights history shows that similar laws are effective in preventing discrimination from happening in the first place. Like other civil rights laws, SNDA would prompt schools to avoid liability by taking proactive steps to prevent the discrimination and bullying of students protected by the bill.