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Franken pushes bill to protect LGBT students from school bullying

This week, U.S. Senator Al Franken, D-Minnesota, reintroduced the Student Non-Discrimination Act, which protects students who are--or are perceived to be--lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) from harassment, discrimination, and violence at school.

Franken's bill extends to LGBT students the same rights to protection from discrimination as other kids have based on their gender, religion, disability, race, or national origin.

The Student Non-Discrimination Act has 30 original cosponsors and has also been added to the Strengthening All Schools Act to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind, which was also introduced today.

"No child should dread going to school because they don't feel safe," said Franken. "Our nation's civil rights laws protect our children from bullying due to race, sex, religion, disability, and national origin. My proposal extends these protections to our gay and lesbian students who shouldn't ever feel afraid of going to school. I'm also pleased my provision is now a part of the education bill that will soon be debated in the Senate Education Committee."

Surveys indicate that nearly eight in 10 LGBT students have been bullied. The harassment LGBT youth experience in school deprives them of equal educational opportunities by increasing their likelihood of skipping school, underperforming academically, and eventually dropping out. It can also have a detrimental effect on their physical and mental health. Left unchecked, this harassment can lead to life-threatening violence and suicide.

The Student Non-Discrimination Act would establish a comprehensive federal prohibition against discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. It would prohibit schools from discriminating against LGBT students or ignoring harassing behavior.

The Student Non-Discrimination Act would also provide meaningful and effective remedies for discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, modeled after Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.