Ge­or­gia sen­a­tors help de­feat LGBT stu­dent pro­tec­tion amend­ment

Vote comes as GLSEN re­leases re­port on anti-bul­ly­ing poli­cies

GA Voice - - Georgia News -

By PA­TRICK SAUN­DERS

Seven Repub­li­cans crossed the aisle to vote in fa­vor of the Stu­dent Nondis­crim­i­na­tion Act (SNDA), but Ge­or­gia’s sen­a­tors stayed put as the amend­ment to an ed­u­ca­tion bill fell eight votes short of the 60-vote thresh­old re­quired for pas­sage.

The fail­ure of the amend­ment, which would have pro­vided nondis­crim­i­na­tion and anti-bul­ly­ing pro­tec­tions for LGBT chil­dren in schools, comes just as an LGBT ed­u­ca­tion or­ga­ni­za­tion re­leases a re­port on the lack of pro­tec­tions for LGBT stu­dents across the coun­try.

The Gay, Les­bian & Straight Ed­u­ca­tion Net­work (GLSEN) re­leased “From State­house to School­house: Anti-Bul­ly­ing Pol­icy Ef­forts in U.S. States and School Dis­tricts” on July 15, one day af­ter SNDA failed in the U.S. Se­nate. Johnny Isak­son voted against the Stu­dent Nondis­crim­i­na­tion Act on July 14. (Of­fi­cial photos)

The re­port showed that nearly three in 10 (29.5 per­cent) U.S. school dis­tricts do not have an anti-bul­ly­ing pol­icy. And of the 70.5 per­cent of U.S. school dis­tricts with anti-bul­ly­ing poli­cies:

• Fewer than half (42.6 per­cent) enu­mer­ate pro­tec­tions for stu­dents based on their ac­tual or per­ceived sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

• A mi­nor­ity (14.1 per­cent) enu­mer­ates pro­tec­tions for stu­dents based on their gen­der iden­tity and/or gen­der ex­pres­sion.

• About a quar­ter (26.8 per­cent) re­quires pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment for staff to ad­dress bul­ly­ing and ha­rass­ment in their schools.

• Fewer than one-third (30.3 per­cent) stip­u­late ac­count­abil­ity for in­ci­dents of bul­ly­ing and ha­rass­ment to the dis­trict and/or state.

• Only 3 per­cent of dis­trict poli­cies in­clude all three el­e­ments—LGBT enu­mer­a­tion, pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment re­quire­ments, and ac­count­abil­ity stip­u­la­tions.

The re­port also found that 75 per­cent of Ge­or­gia school dis­tricts have anti-bul­ly­ing poli­cies, but only 1.7 per­cent have poli­cies enu­mer­at­ing LGBT pro­tec­tions. The na­tional av­er­age was 9.9 per­cent with LGBT pro­tec­tions.

“The crit­i­cal point is that with­out fed­eral pro­tec­tions, states like Ge­or­gia that are un­likely in the near fu­ture to pass state-level pro­tec­tions will be forced to fight bat­tles for LGBTQ stu­dent rights at a slower, dis­trict-by-dis­trict pace,” says Emily Brown, field or­ga­nizer at Ge­or­gia Equal­ity. “This will neg­a­tively af­fect those stu­dents in small, ru­ral dis­tricts that may have small num­bers of LGBTQ stu­dents and who lack ac­cess to gays­traight al­liances, LGBTQ com­mu­nity cen­ters or other af­firm­ing com­mu­nity re­sources.”

Ge­or­gia Equal­ity will con­tinue to work with school dis­tricts across the state to en­act anti-bul­ly­ing poli­cies that enu­mer­ate sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity as pro­tected classes, as well as part­ner with the Ge­or­gia Safe Schools Coali­tion and GLSEN in their ef­forts.

“These pro­grams will al­ways be nec­es­sary, but with­out fed­eral or state poli­cies or laws that pro­tect LGBTQ stu­dents, they are mere stop-gap mea­sures,” Brown says.

The of­fices of Sen. Johnny Isak­son and Sen. David Per­due did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment about their votes on SNDA.

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