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Non-discrimination, safe schools, homeless youth acts reintroduced in the US Senate

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STUDENT NON-DISCRIMINATION ACT

On the heels of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos saying the Trump administration won’t take up complaints of anti-transgender bathroom discrimination in schools until Congress clarifies the law, lawmakers have reintroduced legislation that would spell out anti-LGBT discrimination is unlawful, reports the Washington Blade.

Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., introduced the SNDA in the U.S. House and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., introduced the legislation in the U.S. Senate. Polis also is running to become governor of Colorado and Baldwin seeks re-election to the U.S. Senate in Wisconsin.

“Every child in this country has a right to feel safe in their school. SNDA would provide crucial protections against discrimination for LGBTQ young people, one of the most vulnerable groups in our community,” said David Stacy, HRC government affairs director. “We thank Senator Tammy Baldwin and Representatives Jared Polis, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mark Takano and Bobby Scott for their leadership on this issue and being champions of equality for all people.”

SAFE SCHOOLS IMPROVEMENT ACT

U.S. Senators Mark Warner, D-Va., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., have co-sponsored a bill to help prevent bullying in schools. It would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to require school districts in states that receive ESEA funds for adopting codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment, including by race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion. SSIA would also require that states report data on bullying and harassment to the Department of Education.

Again, a co-sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Baldwin said, “This legislation can help prevent bullying and harassment in schools. Every student should feel safe, and we are right to ensure that schools are putting place locally driven policies that prevent bullying and harassment, both in school and online.”

RUNAWAY AND HOMELESS YOUTH AND TRAFFICKING PREVENTION ACT

Reintroduced by Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, the measure would re-authorize essential Runaway and Homeless Youth Act programs, including prevention, emergency shelters, street outreach, transitional living, and assistance in rural areas. It includes an explicit non-discrimination provision that would prohibit any provider of these services from discriminating against youth based on their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.

“We know that children and teenagers who run away or resort to couch-surfing are at greater risk of being trafficked and exploited, and they lack the support networks and wrap-around services they need to succeed. We must provide them every opportunity to reach their full potential in a safe and supportive environment. This support must include protections and services for all runaway and homeless youth, especially our LGBT youth who are some of the most vulnerable…,” co-sponsor U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said.

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