Why LGBTQ Children Desperately Need the Student Non-Discrimination Act

Jadin Bell was just 15 when he hanged himself in a school playground after years of bullying. His family was then forced to make the awful decision to remove him from live support. The vivacious gay teen was a generous community volunteer and popular with many of his classmates, but not enough, and officials didn’t take enough action to make him feel safe in school.

Another teen who took his own life, Carlos Vigil, 17, posted a suicide note to his Facebook saying that “the kids in school are right, I am a loser, a freak, and a fag.” Their stories are just two among many, with gay teens in the US facing a suicide epidemic — the subject was briefly in the news several years ago, but faded from the radar, though LGBQT youth are still facing the same problem.

Senator Al Franken and Congressman Jared Polis are aiming to change that with the reintroduction of the Student Non-Discrimination Act, which has been bouncing around Congress since 2011. The two legislators have fought tirelessly through multiple defeats, and they’re hoping that this time their effort to make school safer for the LGBQT community will prevail. Their work isn’t just about putting a stop to bullying and other behaviors that can lead to suicidal ideation though, but also about making school a place where everyone can safely learn.

Under Title IX, schools are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of sex, origin, race, disability status, religion, or color. However, sexual orientation and gender identity are not covered, which this legislation aims to change. Given that an estimated 90 percent of LGBQT students experience bullying that can cause mental health complications, poor performance in school, and absenteeism, this is a serious issue. Senator Al Franken notes that:

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.”

The bill hopes to create incentives for schools to address anti-gay bullying through two different means.

The first creates legal standing for students to sue if their school environment is unsafe as a result of bullying and school officials do nothing to address the issue. By creating such a framework, the bill forces schools to take on inappropriate behavior or face costly and potentially time-consuming litigation that would drag the district down. This also incentivizes the creation of better school policies, which might include anti-bullying task forces and programs to proactively prevent abusive behavior.

In addition, the bill proposes that schools will lose federal funding for failing to take action on bullying. Educational institutions rely heavily on federal support for everything from paying teachers to maintaining their facilities. Without such funding, schools might be forced to radically scale back or close — so even if a school was willing to close ranks and for some reason protect those bullies, parents and the community wouldn’t tolerate it in light of the potential consequences.

More than 80 civil rights organizations have put their weight behind SNDA, and the hope is that Congress will too. After multiple rounds of failed attempts, it’s possible that 2015 will be a banner year for LGBQT students.

Photo credit: Berolino

42 comments

Sue H
Sue H11 months ago

2018 update??

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Kelsey S
Kelsey S11 months ago

Thanks

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Danuta Watola
Danuta W11 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Amy Kirby
Amy Kirby4 years ago

Thank you so much for sharing! People usually don't understand that this is a problem. LGBTQ students are vulnerable at school and have to deal with bullying all the time. Most of the time people just stay blind to this problem. Ignorance is a bliss, but while we stay silent someone is crying. My friend has to study at home and managed to graduate only thanks to this great college essay website I recommended her. She just couldn't endure mockery and indignant glance. However, bullying doesn't have to be physical to hurt.

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Jane H.
Jane H4 years ago

Thank you so much for the article. This is definitely a crying need. Thanks to those in Congress who support it. I think we'll have to wait until the Democrats have the majority in the Senate and House of Representatives as well as the Presidency for such a law to pass, however. Republicans could care less, is my guess.

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Ingo Schreiner
Ingo Schreiner4 years ago

noted

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Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey4 years ago

Thanks

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Cosa H.
Sjors S4 years ago

Thanks for sharing

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Dawn W.
Dawnie W4 years ago

This is a story of victimisation against someone because he was perceived as being different and odd. But the oddities were and are the Bullies, who isolated and tortured this poor boy. Very uncivilised, ignorant, intollerant and judgemental. Have they ever stopped and looked in the mirror and seen all their flaws because no one is perfect and these nasty cretins are far from being perfection otherwise they would not be doing all this hateful activity. The schools and parents have to teach love, tolerance, respect and acceptance of every human being whether they are sexually different, disabled or maimed in someway or homeless dirty and dishevelled and are no longer perfect in societies eyes. . . Thank you for post. . .


♥(✿◠‿◠✿)♥*♥˚☻Love & Peace☻go with☻you all.☻˚♥*♥(✿◠‿◠✿)♥

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