Senate Introduces Bill to Protect LGBT Students Against Discrimination

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Mandy Simon, (202) 675-2312; media@dcaclu.org

Senate Introduces Bill to Protect LGBT Students Against Discrimination

WASHINGTON - Senator Al Franken (D-MN) introduced an important bill today that
would offer remedies for discrimination "based on actual or perceived
sexual orientation or gender identity" in public elementary and
secondary schools. The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) would help
to end entrenched biases towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
(LGBT) students in our education system. A similar bill was introduced
in the House of Representatives in January by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO)
and currently has over 100 co-sponsors. The American Civil Liberties
Union strongly supports these bills and urges swift action by both
chambers.

The ACLU is currently
involved in a case that underscores the need for the SNDA. In April, the
ACLU filed a complaint with the Itawamba County School District in
Fulton, Mississippi urging the school district to reverse its decision
to forbid a lesbian student from attending a prom with her girlfriend
and from wearing a tuxedo to the prom. After school officials canceled
the prom altogether rather than allow Constance McMillen to attend the
dance in a tuxedo with her girlfriend, the ACLU then filed a federal
lawsuit. In a preliminary ruling in April, the court found that Itawamba
County School District officials violated McMillen's First Amendment
right to freedom of expression, and the case is expected to go to
trial.    

The following can be attributed to Laura W.
Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:


"The Student
Non-Discrimination Act is an answer to a persistent problem. As we have
seen recently in Constance McMillen's case, LGBT students continue to
face harassment and intolerance every day. Under the Student Non-Discrimination Act,
McMillen and LGBT students like her would have a federal statute to
protect them. Our public schools
should be a safe harbor for our students, not a place of exclusion and
ridicule. The Student Non-Discrimination Act will go a long way toward
protecting our students and will promote both equality in schools and a
safer learning environment. We urge the both the House and Senate to
make this bill a priority."

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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