Today, 70 groups ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers to the NAACP -- along with LGBT advocacy groups like the Human Rights Campaign; National Gay & Lesbian Task Force; Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network; Trevor Project -- urged the Obama administration to endorse the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA).
We are 70 national and state organizations who are committed to ensuring that all students are able to pursue an education unhindered by discrimination and harassment. We write to request that your administration publicly support and endorse the Student Non-Discrimination Act (S. 555/H.R. 998).
The SNDA, modeled after Title IX, would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal education nondiscrimination law. During the Senate's consideration of the bill, Metro Weekly in March 2011 detailed that White House and other administration officials have declined numerous opportunities to endorse either bill and have rarely even mentioned the bills except in response to specific questions about them.
In October 2011, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) announced that the committee voted to pass the Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act of 2011 out of committee -- but it did so without SNDA or another anti-bullying bill, the Safe Schools Improvement Act, included.
Eight months earlier, in February 2011, President Obama met with Senate leaders on the issue, but neither anti-bullying bill was raised during the meeting.
In closing, the 70 organizations' letter states:
Your administration's endorsements of both the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Respect for Marriage Act provided those bills with critical momentum. An endorsement of the Student Non-Discrimination Act would likewise be a clarion call for equality in our schools and better protections for vulnerable children. And more importantly, it would make clear to all Members of Congress what the administration views as a necessary federal legislative solution to the serious problem of anti-LGBT discrimination and harassment in our nation's public schools.
READ the letter: snda_ltr_to_president_obama_3-7-12.pdf