(Washington, D.C., January 27, 2010) — Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) applauds the introduction of the Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 4530), new federal legislation designed to ensure that all students have access to public education in a safe environment free from discrimination, including harassment, bullying, intimidation and violence. The Student Non-Discrimination Act would provide nationwide comprehensive prohibition of discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The measure would provide victims of such discrimination with meaningful and effective remedies, modeled after Title IX. Earlier in the day, Rep. Polis (D-CO) introduced the bill which currently has 58 co-sponsors.

According to surveys from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, bullying is a serious problem in our nation’s schools, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students are particularly at risk. Last year, nearly nine out of 10 LGBTQ students reported harassment and more than half said they felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation. The Student Non-Discrimination Act is designed to address these problems, with a common sense solution that protects students.

“We thank Rep. Polis and all of the bill’s sponsors for working to ensure a safe learning environment and equal opportunity for students,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “All children deserve schools that do not discriminate, that support them and help them achieve academic success. We strongly support this new measure.”

“Too often, LGBTQ youth are at risk because they are isolated or harassed,” said NCLR Youth Project Director Jody Marksamer. “This legislation sets a standard that will help make our nation’s public schools safer for all youth, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, or of whether they associate with students who are LGBT. And that is exactly how it should be.”

In addition to helping draft this key legislation, NCLR’s Youth Project seeks to advance the rights of LGBTQ youth through education, public policy, and precedent-setting casework. By bringing the issues faced by LGBTQ youth front and center, NCLR changes the legal landscape for all youth, and ensuring health and safety for the next generation of all young people.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.