Protect LGBT Students from Discrimination

July 10, 2015
Currently, federal law explicitly protects students from discrimination in school based on race, color, national origin, sex and disability. However, no federal law explicitly protects students from discrimination based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or their association with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Anti-LGBT discrimination in education takes many forms, including harassment, bullying, intimidation and violence, and often times, LGBT students are denied equal educational opportunities. Numerous studies have shown that anti-LGBT discrimination at schools has contributed to high rates of absenteeism, dropout, and academic underachievement among LGBT youth.   A recent study found that 55.5% of LGBT students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, and 37.8% because of their gender expression. The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) would address this issue by explicitly prohibiting public schools from discriminating against any student on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, or their association with LGBT people. This week, the Senate began debating the Every Child Achieves Act, which would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the most expansive education legislation ever passed by Congress. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) submitted SNDA as an amendment (S.Amdt.2093) to the Every Child Achieves Act on July 7 and the Senate is likely to vote on the SNDA amendment in the coming week. Urge your Senators to vote for the SNDA amendment now and protect LGBT students from discrimination! Judaism teaches that all human beings are created b'tzelem Elohim, in the Divine image (Genesis 1:27). This belief that the stamp of the Divine is present in all humans is fundamental to Reform Judaism; we cannot tolerate discrimination against or bullying of any person for any reason. That is why the Reform Movement has long been an advocate for the Student Non-Discrimination Act and recently coordinated a letter of thirty-six faith-based organizations and religious denominations in support of the Student Non-Discrimination Act amendment. Urge your Senators now to vote for the SNDA amendment! To learn more about the Jewish values that inspire our work for LGBT rights, visit the RAC’s LGBT rights webpage.

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