Take action on behalf of youth: Contact your legislators about SSIA and SNDA

The following action alert is from PFLAG National:

Dear PFLAGer:

It’s time to make clear the needs of LGBT students and youth by seeking support for the two key active bills that merit your U.S. Senators’ and Representative’s attention, and no voices for our future leaders matter more than those of PFLAG families’. All students, including those who are LGBT or gender non-conforming, should experience learning at school without the harm or fear of bullying or harassment, and The Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) and Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) both protect children’s well-being at school, delivering an environment where they can learn without discrimination or fear.

Here’s a quick recap on the bills:

Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) and Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA). As Congress moves toward agreeing upon the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in the 113th Congress, these two bills–either by inclusion with exact language or by expressed intent with similar language–are needed. Please urge your legislators to move both of these bills forward for the sake of safety without bullying or harassment for our student youth as they wish merely to learn as their peer students do now.

Your suggested PFLAG message:

As your constituent and as a member of PFLAG ______ (chapter name), I urge you to prioritize the well-being of all students and children, including those who are LGBT or gender non-conforming, to make their school life free of bullying and harassment — with SSIA and SNDA.

PFLAG’s values are America’s values, and that includes treating all of our youth equally. Thank you if you already support these bills. If not, please do so to honor the integrity of our great country.  Thank you.

REMEMBER: Please tell your legislator your name, address and zip code. Reach your two Senators and one Representative by clicking here.

 

More information about SSIA, the Safe Schools Improvement Act:

Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2013

Bill Number:
The bill was reintroduced in the 113th Congress in the House as H.R. 1199 by Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-CA) on March 14, 2013, and in the Senate as S. 403 by Senator Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA) on February 28, 2013.

What this Bill Will Do:
The Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) would amend the Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Act – part of the No Child Left Behind Act – and instruct school districts to implement a comprehensive anti-bullying policy that includes specific enumeration for sexual orientation and gender identity as well as require states to include bullying and harassment data in the statewide needs assessments, which will help collect important statewide data measuring and understanding the full scope of bullying, harassment and discrimination at school.

What You Need to Ask For:
Ask your Members of Congress to support this bill and to vote for it if it goes to the Floor. If they are not a cosponsor of the bill, ask them to become a cosponsor. Be sure to encourage them to include SSIA in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill. If you work for or with a local school community, please contact the PFLAG National Office to learn how you can help advance this important legislation.

PFLAG Talking Points:

  • Bullying and harassment plague our nation’s schools. According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)’s 2011 National School Climate Survey, more than 8 of 10 LGBT students experience some form of harassment in school, and yet only 10 states have comprehensive legislation that protects students against anti-LGBT bullying and harassment.
  • Comprehensive anti-bullying and harassment policies work. Enumerated anti-bullying policies are the most effective at addressing anti-LGBT and bias-based bullying. In fact, the 2011 National School Climate Survey also reported that students in states with school policies that don’t specifically include sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (in other words, enumerated policies) are no more protected from bullying than students who live in states without any anti-bullying and/or harassment laws.
  • The bill cultivates respect which will create safer schools. The bill provides language ensuring that all students have a safe learning environment which helps reduce the nation’s growing drop-out rate. Research shows that bullying and harassment are serious problems that impede students’ academic progress and overall mental health. GLSEN research has also found that nearly one-third of all students are bullied at least once a month and that one out of every ten high school drop-outs left school because of repeated bullying.

Important Notes:

  • As of October 2013, the House version of this bill has 170 cosponsors and the Senate version has 42 cosponsors.
  • The bill has been referred to the House Education and Workforce and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
  • A broad range of educational and non-educational organizations have continued support for SSIA, including the American Library Association, the National PTA, the American Federation of Teachers, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, GLSEN, and the National Council of La Raza.

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More information about SNDA, the Student Non-Discrimination Act:

Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2013

Bill Number:
The bill was reintroduced in the 113th Congress in the House as H.R. 1652 by Congressman Jared Polis, (D-CO) and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) on April 18, 2013 and will be introduced in the Senate soon, led by Senator Al Franken (D-MN).

What this Bill Will Do:
The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) would establish a comprehensive federal prohibition of discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. SNDA would provide protections for LGBT students and ensure that all students have access to public education in a safe environment free from discrimination, harassment, bullying, intimidation, and violence. SNDA would also provide meaningful and effective remedies (loss of federal funding and legal cause of action for victims) for discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, modeled after Title IX – to learn more about Title IX, please visit PFLAG National’s Claim Your Rights web resource center.

What you Need to Ask for:
Ask your Members of Congress to support this bill and to vote for it if it comes to the Floor, especially if they serve on the House Education and Workforce Committee or the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Be sure to encourage them to include SNDA in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill. If they are not a co-sponsor of the bill, ask them to support it by co-sponsoring. If they are already a co-sponsor please thank them. If you work for or with a local school community, please contact thePFLAG National Office to learn how you can help advance this important legislation.

PFLAG Talking Points:

  • Discrimination harms our students and our education system. Every day, students who are, or who are perceived to be LGBT are subjected to pervasive discrimination, including harassment, bullying, intimidation, and violence, which is harmful to both students and our education system. Surveys indicate as many as nine in ten LGBT students have been bullied, and that LGBT youth are bullied two to three times more often than non-LGBT students.
  • LGBT students lack legal protections. While federal civil rights statutes expressly address discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, disability, or national origin, they do not explicitly include sexual orientation or gender identity and, as a result, LGBT students and parents have often had limited legal recourse when they experience discrimination. Having explicit non-discrimination policies protecting students who are or are perceived to be LGBT gives teachers and administrator the tools they need to protect all students.
  • The bill cultivates respect which will create safer schools. The bill provides language ensuring that all students have a safe learning environment which helps reduce the nation’s growing drop-out rate. Research shows that bullying and harassment are serious problems that impede students’ academic progress and overall mental health. Left unchecked, discrimination can lead, and has led, to life-threatening violence and to suicide. When school officials engage in discriminatory treatment, or are indifferent to harassing behavior, LGBT students’ constitutional rights are infringed upon.

Important Notes: 

  • As of early October 2013, the House version of this bill has 157 cosponsors and the Senate version has 37 cosponsors.
  • The bill is in the first stage of the legislative process where it is being considered in the House Education and Workforce Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee where it may undergo significant changes in markup sessions.
  • A broad range of social service, professional and advocacy organizations have expressed support for this legislation including the American Civil Liberties Union, the American School Counselor Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the NAACP, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Education Association, the National Women’s Law Center, and the School Social Work Association of America.

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