Put this toolkit to good use and call your Senators today, "pass ENDA now!"

Update: With meetings in DC and calls coming in from across the country, ENDA supporters are sending a clear message to the Senate: pass ENDA now! It's not too late to join them. Take a look at our just-released toolkit then call your Senators by looking up their contact information or by hitting up the capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. The government may be shut down, but Congress is still on the job, and we need to show them that they need to get back to work not only on the budget but on all of the urgent issues that we care about.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is civil rights legislation that would make it illegal to fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote employees because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Specifically, ENDA would expand current federal employment protections against discrimination – such as those based on race, religion, gender, national origin, age, and disability – to include sexual orientation and gender identity. ENDA would establish uniform protections for LGBT workers across the country, making it clear that employees cannot be mistreated because of who they are or who they love.

First introduced in 1994, ENDA has been introduced in every subsequent session of Congress except one, including its introduction this April by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate. Advocates in Congress and on the ground believe that the growing momentum surrounding LGBT equality should help ENDA move forward this year.

To that end, People For the American Way today released Judging Employees by Their Work Performance, Not by Who They Are or Who They Love, a new toolkit that contains talking points, training and materials for lobbying, media tools, and Right Wing Watch opposition research, all designed to help you in calling for Congress to stand on the side of equality.

Click here and here for information about critical allies and other resources. And be sure to check out this new poll about the strong support for ENDA across the country.

PFAW

New documentary revisits the climate change we all should want

Last spring, PFAW staff members and friends attended a screening of Lee Hirsch's documentary, Bully, which tells the stories of young people bullied in school, the challenges they faced, the actions they took, and the lessons they teach us all.

One such lesson was the idea that bullying is an environmental problem that requires climate change. Everyone has a stake. It’s not just bullies and the students they target. It’s students who witness incidents. It’s teachers and administrators with the power to intervene. It’s nurses and counselors dealing with the physical and emotional tolls taken. It’s parents trying to get through to their children. It’s community groups who simply want to help. It’s bus drivers. It’s also not about paying lip service to the problem. It’s about having a genuine interest in making it better now and sustaining those solutions in the future.

Now HBO is set to tell another story of the climate change we all should want.

It was February 12, 2008. 15-year-old Lawrence “Larry” King, who had begun openly exploring a female expression of his gender identity, and 14-year-old Brandon McInerney were in a computer lab at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, California. With the flash of two gunshots, Larry was off to the hospital, fighting for his life in a battle that he would soon lose; and Brandon was under arrest, later tried as an adult and sentenced to 21 years. Never would their teacher and their classmates be the same.

Both boys had troubled family lives and were caught up in a system that never fully met their needs. They were students in a school where the administrators and most of the teachers and students didn’t understand Larry or what he was going through. Nobody adequately stepped up for Larry leading up to that fateful day. Even Larry's friends and allies could do little to make the situation better.

At the Valentine Road screening, Eliza Byard, GLSEN's Executive Director who recently spoke in commemoration of the March on Washington, said something to this effect:

Larry's legacy is more than our enduring sadness. There is more that we can do.

It's the same call to action that Dennis Van Roekel has made in his work as President of the National Education Association: (5:24)

Stories like Larry’s are the reason we must support climate change in schools nationwide. They’re the reason we must support federal legislation like the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act.

Let’s make sure we stand up for not only tolerance but also for understanding in our own communities and schools.

PFAW

PFAW Releases New Toolkit on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is civil rights legislation that would make it illegal to fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote employees because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Specifically, ENDA would expand current federal employment protections against discrimination – such as those based on race, religion, gender, national origin, age, and disability – to include sexual orientation and gender identity. ENDA would establish uniform protections for LGBT workers across the country, making it clear that employees cannot be mistreated because of who they are or who they love.

First introduced in 1994, ENDA has been introduced in every subsequent session of Congress except one, including its introduction this April by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate. Advocates in Congress and on the ground believe that the growing momentum surrounding LGBT equality should help ENDA move forward this year.

To that end, People For the American Way today released Judging Employees by Their Work Performance, Not by Who They Are or Who They Love, a new toolkit that contains talking points, lobbying training and materials, media tools, and Right Wing Watch opposition research, all designed to help you in calling for Congress to stand on the side of equality.

Click here and here for information about critical allies and other resources. And be sure to check out this new poll about the strong support for ENDA across the country.

PFAW

Standing Up For Kevin Jennings

The Right Wing smear machine has been in overdrive attacking Kevin Jennings, who heads the Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools.  But the education community is having none of it.

The National Association of School Psychologists calls Jennings "A Champion in the Department of Education."

The Learning First Alliance says "Kevin Jennings is the right person to lead the Education Department's Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools."

The National Education association says Jennings is "highly qualified" and that his "proven track record of success speaks for itself."

Gerald Tirozzi of the National Association of Secondary School Principles appeared on CNN last night to praise Jennings as "a powerful voice to continualy help us not to back away from doing the right things for kids in our schools."

And, in case you were wondering, People For says "Kevin Jennings Will Keep Schools Safe for All."  Indeed.

 UPDATE: There's more!

The Council for Exceptional Children says "Mr. Jennings has dedicated his career to ensuring that our schools remain supportive, safe and positive for all students."

The Social Workers Association of America says Jennings "is devoted to improving the school climate and making schools safe and nurturing environments for learning and growth."

The National Association of Secondary School Principals calls Jennings "a great educator who cares deeply about every student."

PFAW