Teen bullying is an epidemic sweeping our school systems. LGBT students, and students perceived to be LGBT, are particularly affected by this ugly trend. According to the 2009 National School Climate Survey, 9 out of 10 surveyed LGBT students experience harassment at school, and two thirds reported feeling unsafe. Teen suicide, often committed in the face of severe bullying, is the third leading cause of death among young adults ages 15 to 24. We must put a stop to this tragic chain of events.
This week, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) into Congress. SNDA serves to prohibit discrimination and harassment on the basis of perceived sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools. While race, religion, sex and disability are all protected from public school discrimination under federal law, sexual orientation and gender identity are not. The Safe Schools Improvement Act was also introduced in the Senate this week by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL). The act requires public schools to implement a comprehensive program created to prevent the bullying and harassment of all students.
The American Humanist Association is committed to supporting LGBT rights, including the rights of young people to live free from harassment and bullying. The AHA formed the LGBT Humanist Council to add support to the LGBT equality movement and represent people who identify as LGBT and humanist.
Please take a moment and contact your Senators and Representative and urge them to support the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act. All students deserve a safe and accepting environment in which they can learn, grow, and be themselves.