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Diversity & Inclusion in Education

Protecting Students Includes Safeguarding Their Rights

News & Analysis

Gun violence prevention is once again on everyone's minds after 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. People For the American Way protested outside the White House and marched to the U.S. Capitol on National Walkout Day to demand that action replace years of empty rhetoric in Congress. PFAW will hit the streets again with hundreds of thousands of others for the March For Our Lives on Saturday.

Enough is enough.

Students have long deserved better from their elected leaders. There are many commonsense policies that would make a difference, not only on gun violence prevention, but on other actions to help ensure safe schools—like the Student Non-Discrimination Act. SNDA protects students from school-based sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination by recognizing bullying and harassment as discrimination and providing both for remedies against it and incentives for schools to prevent it from happening in the first place.

PFAW and PFAW's African American Ministers In Action – Equal Justice Task Force were proud to stand with Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and the more than 150 cosponsors who reintroduced SNDA on March 21 in both the House and Senate.

Rep. Polis:

All students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, have the right to a safe learning space and should feel comfortable at school. Congress needs to act and let all students know that we are on their side, and we not only believe everyone belongs—we believe that every child deserves a safe and civil learning environment.

Sen. Baldwin:

Congress must make absolutely clear that every student, including LGBTQ youth, must have access to an education free from discrimination, harassment and bullying. As multiple federal courts of appeals have recognized, current law is properly understood to protect these young people.  But with the Trump Administration walking back the federal government’s commitment to equality, it is critical that Congress act to eliminate any doubt and ensure these students are protected from discrimination.

PFAW took a strong stand on behalf of LGBTQ youth following a spate of LGBTQ youth suicides that gripped the nation in 2010. We've continued to advocate for safe schools for all students under the Trump administration and the repeated attacks on LGBTQ young people by President Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.