PFAW recently launched a letter campaign urging members of Congress to support safe schools legislation. Along with six allies who also sent letters this week, and those who will soon join us, we are making a strong showing for the idea that all students deserve far better than what they're getting when it comes to bullying and harassment in schools.
Below are excerpts from this week's letters.
Human Rights Campaign:
Federal statutory protections address discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex and disability. Unfortunately, federal civil rights laws do not expressly protect students from discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Decades of civil rights history show that civil rights laws are effective in decreasing discrimination against specific vulnerable groups. It is time that we extend these laws to protect our LGBT youth.
American Civil Liberties Union:
The Student Non-Discrimination Act would have a profound impact in improving the lives of LGBT students in the U.S. by ensuring that discrimination and harassment of students on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity has no place in our country’s public elementary and secondary schools. It would do so in a way that preserves the right of all students to speak freely and the right of all students to benefit equally from the educational programs offered.
League of United Latin American Citizens:
Each time another news story comes out about the suicide of a gay teen, we must ask ourselves what we as a nation can do about it. Last year, I contacted your office about the tragedy of Carlos Vigil, a 17 year old Latino student from New Mexico, who committed suicide after posting a note on his Twitter account about the bullying he had suffered over the years. While not a solution to anti-gay prejudice, SNDA and SSIA represent a positive step forward in protecting our students from this kind of harassment. Both of these bills would help establish policies in schools across the nation that would help put an end to such egregious bullying. These bills are not only about the government offering protections, but they would also empower families to act in ensuring the safety of their children. As of now, families have limited or no recourse for putting an end to harassment against their child. These bills would give hope to parents worried about their kids and feeling powerless to help.
National Association of School Psychologists:
Based on the research, there is a solution to this problem. Bullying prevention programs that include prevention, school-wide universal positive behavioral supports, early intervention, and individualized interventions for bullies and victims, parental involvement and increased adult supervision can reduce bullying by up to 50% (Olweus, 1997). If we are to solve the problem of bullying and harassment in America’s schools, we need to make a significant investment in prevention and intervention programs.
National Women's Law Center:
The Safe Schools Improvement Act (S. 403/H.R. 1199) and the Student Non-Discrimination Act (S. 1088/H.R. 1652) present Congress with a historic opportunity to implement important protections against bullying and harassment for all students, and to offer critical protections to current and future generations of LGBT youth and their student allies by ensuring that discrimination against and harassment of students on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity will have no place in our country’s public elementary and secondary schools.
Point Foundation is the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) students of merit. Every year, thousands of LGBTQ students apply for our scholarships. Many have experienced harassment in school that no student should experience.
PFAW will be sharing even more with you as we approach April 11, this year's Day of Silence – an annual event organized by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) that is meant to draw attention to the "silencing effects" of anti-gay harassment and name-calling in schools and to be a way for students to show their solidarity with students who have been bullied.
In the meantime, please check out PFAW's report on Big Bullies: How the Religious Right is Trying to Make Schools Safe for Bullies and Dangerous for Gay Kids and its 2012 update.