In the wake of the Supreme Court’s historic ruling on marriage, it’s easy to feel like the law is finally on the side of LGBT rights. But for all the progress we’ve made, there is still much work to be done – especially when it comes to protecting young LGBT students.
Thankfully, here in Maine we have robust anti-discrimination laws that protect adults and children alike. You can’t be kicked out of an apartment, or fired from your job, or denied service at a restaurant, just because of who you are. We even have a specific anti-bullying law - which the ACLU helped write and pass in 2012 - that protects students and explicitly covers sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. This is a great thing for anyone who lives in Maine, but sadly not every state across the country has followed suit.
This is why we’ve spent so much time over the past few years talking about the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA), a very important bill that would help ensure that LGBT students across the country are able to obtain a quality public education that is free of discrimination. We were hopeful it would pass way back in the beginning of 2012, but nothing materialized and ever since it has been hard for the bill to even get a fair crack at a vote.
This week, the Senate is finally set to consider SNDA as an amendment to its overhaul of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. After so much inaction, could we finally see Congress step up and extend these much-needed protections to young children who want nothing more than to go to school without the threat of discrimination? Much has changed for LGBT rights in the past few years, and we sincerely hope that last month’s landmark ruling encourages the Senate to seize that momentum and stand up for young students across the country who deserve the right to an education free from bullying and discrimination.
We will continue to provide you with updates on SNDA, as well as other issues affecting LGBT rights. As excited as we still are about the victory on marriage equality, we won’t be taking our eye off the many other areas where inequality is still permitted under law. Schools are one of those areas where LGBT youth face the most discrimination and we must ensure they are given all the full legal protections and rights that they deserve.