Schools are a refuge for students, but too often they are overrun by bullying and harassment based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Presently, LGBT youth are verbally harassed and physically abused by their fellow students on a daily basis. Eighty-six percent of LGBT students report being verbally harassed and 44 percent say they’ve been physically assaulted at school because of their sexual orientation. Thirty-two percent report skipping school because they feel unsafe. This bullying and harassment too often pushes gay and transgender youth onto the streets.
Schools should be a safety net that prevents LGBT youth from ending up homeless. The Department of Education and the Department of Justice should both work toward better understanding and tackling the issue of discrimination, harassment, and abuse of LGBT students in our nation’s schools. And Congress should pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which would require schools receiving federal funding to enact policies that prohibit discrimination against LGBT students. It should also enact the Student Nondiscrimination Act, which would establish an explicit right to an education free from harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
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