Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bill Would Take Away Federal Funds From Schools That Allow 'Religious Freedom' Exceptions For Bullies

I have been saying that, while the march toward marriage equality is growing stronger every day — even with places like Alabama needing to be dragged kicking and screaming into it — the next big fight will be against the use of so-called “religious freedom” to discriminate against the LGBT community.

I mean, we’ve seen it with bakers, and florist and dressmakers, who cry foul when asked to serve a customer who is gay, saying the Baby Jeebus doesn’t want them baking or arranging or sewing for The Gays, so, while I hate to sound pessimistic, I think it’ll get worse before it gets better; but, to steal a Dan Savage phrased, it will get better.

In Washington yesterday, Democratic congressmen Jared Polis [Colorado] and Bobby Scott  [Virginia] were joined by Republican — yes, a Republican, and one of the few LGBT friendly one at that — co-sponsor, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen [Florida], to introduce the Student Non-Discrimination Act [SNDA] which would protect LGBTQ students in public schools from discrimination based on so-called religious exemption; Senator Al Franken a Democrat from Minnesota introduced the same bill in the U.S. Senate.

If they can garner enough Republican support in this new congress — and we all know how the Republicans love to play the religion card, and how much they loathe the LGBT community — to get it passed, SNDA would establish a federal prohibition against discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity; public schools could no longer ignore reports of harassment or bullying and failure to comply could result in the loss of federal funding for the school. SNDA would also allow victims to sue the school, and school officials, for damages.

"Evidence shows that discrimination against LGBT students deprives them of equal educational opportunities by increasing their likelihood of skipping school, underperforming academically, and dropping out. School must be a place where all students feel welcome and safe to thrive." — Representative Bobby Scott
For Representative Polis, an openly gay man, SNDA has long been on his wish list, and now that Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has signed on, he hopes she’ll be able to persuade enough Republicans to at least get the
bill out of committee and to the floor for debate. 
"Every single child deserves a quality education that is free from discrimination and prepares them for college and a career. It’s simply unacceptable that in 2015, there are thousands of students who face bullying and harassment every day when they get to school simply because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity." — Representative Jared Polis
Representative Ros-Lehtinen told reporters she is committed to doing all she can to help pass SNDA:
"No student should face discrimination for any reason, including their sexual orientation or gender identity. If we aspire to a society where prejudices are a relic of the past then we must begin by preaching and living the virtues of tolerance at our educational institutions."
And, if this works out, if the Republicans finally come to the conclusion that allowing people to hide behind their religion as an excuse to bully, harass, tease, taunt, berate and beat any LGBTQ student, and send this bill to the White House, President Obama has indicated he will sign it. 

Here’s hoping the GOP does what’s right — and, yes, I know it’s a long shot — and we start protecting all students in all schools.
via NCRM


the dogs' mother said...

Crossing fingers.

anne marie in philly said...


bullies do NOT belong in schools; I don't give a fat rat's ass that your so-called "religion" says you can bully others.

viktor kerney said...

I hope it isn't a long shot

Frank said...

I won't hold my breath.

Biki Honko said...

This would be one fantastic law that could be used to force schools to finally acknowledge and correct bullying. But, yeah I really don't see this law getting anywhere close to a pass vote.

Helen Lashbrook said...

My guess is that, sadly, Obama saying he would sign the bill into law is the bill's death knell as far as the Republicans are concerned. If Obama worked in Europe the GOP would probably be charged with racial prejudice.