Main | Friday, April 20, 2012

Obama Endorses Federal Anti-Bullying Law

Today the White House thoughtfully picked the Day Of Silence to endorse the federal Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) and the Safe Schools Improvement Act.

Chris Geidner reports at Metro Weekly:
White House spokesman Shin Inouye tells Metro Weekly, "The President and his Administration have taken many steps to address the issue of bullying. He is proud to support the Student Non-Discrimination Act, introduced by Senator Franken and Congressman Polis, and the Safe Schools Improvement Act, introduced by Senator Casey and Congresswoman Linda Sanchez. These bills will help ensure that all students are safe and healthy and can learn in environments free from discrimination, bullying and harassment." The SSIA would amend the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act to include bullying- and harassment-prevention programs, including ones based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The SNDA, modeled after Title IX, would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal education nondiscrimination law.
Tonight the White House is also screening the movie Bully to an audience of community activists. Reactions from LGBT rights groups are below.

"Today is a day that I have hoped for since I began my work as an anti-bullying advocate after losing my son Carl," said Sirdeaner Walker. "I believe that President Obama's explicit endorsement of the Safe Schools Improvement Act will make a tremendous difference in moving this issue forward. Having met with the President three times, I knew his support for SSIA and the Student Non-Discrimination Act was genuine. But stating that publicly on GLSEN's Day of Silence pushes it to a whole new level. While nothing can bring Carl back, I know that these bills can make a real difference to end the bullying and harassment that is faced by too many other sons and daughters today."
National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
“We thank President Obama for endorsing the Safe Schools Improvement Act and Student Non-Discrimination Act. The epidemic of bullying and discrimination in our nation’s schools is a tragedy and an outrage. No student should fear getting beaten up, harassed and tormented while simply trying to get an education. We have a responsibility to ensure all young people are protected from this pervasive bullying, discrimination and abuse. Parents, educators, policymakers — all of us — need to stand against this unacceptable behavior. The president did that today. We urge him to now help get these life-saving bills through Congress.”
Lambda Legal
"We applaud the Obama administration for endorsing this critical piece of legislation. We thank Sen. Al Franken,Rep. Jared Polis, Rep. Barney Frank and Rep. Tammy Baldwin and over 50other current sponsors for their leadership on this bill and we urge Congress to pass it. At Lambda Legal, we've encountered extraordinary cases of violence and discrimination against LGBT young peoplein schools - and sometimes against the allies who try to support them. The Student Non-Discrimination Act takes a big step toward a safer and healthier environment in every public school."
“Having the White House stand behind the Student Non-Discrimination Act is key to getting this necessary legislation passed into law,” said Ian Thompson, ACLU legislative representative. “Our public schools should be a safe harbor for our youth, not a place of exclusion and ridicule. By passing the Student Non-Discrimination Act, Congress can have a profound and very real impact in improving the lives of LGBT students. It’s time to make passage of this bill a priority.”
Human Rights Campaign
“The President’s endorsement of the SNDA and SSIA recognizes the importance of providing LGBT students with the same civil rights protections as other students,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “No student should feel scared when walking into their school and these bills would address the discrimination and bullying that our youth have endured for far too long.”

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