Main | Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) Introduces Federal Anti-Bullying Bill

Today Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and 21 fellow Senators introduced a federal bill intended to protect LGBT students from harassment and bullying. Via the ACLU:
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.
Franken says that he and others are working on language to define what constitutes bullying. But he says that most people know it when they see it. As noted in the above-linked story, Rep. Jared Polis introduced similar legislation in the U.S. House earlier this year. Here's the list of Senate co-sponsors:
SNDA is co-sponsored by Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Robert Menedez (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii).

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