Democrats introduce resolution in support of LGBTQ+ youth

Author: Trudy Ring

LGBTQ+ and allied members of Congress Friday introduced a resolution to support the Rise Up for LGBTQI+ Youth in Schools Initiative, “a call to action to communities across the country to demand equal educational opportunity, basic civil rights protections, and freedom from erasure for all students, particularly LGBTQI+ young people, in K–12 schools,” as the resolution states.The resolution was introduced by Reps. Mark Takano and Barbara Lee of California and Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, and cosponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, all Democrats.

“As a former teacher, I know that school shouldn’t be about just surviving — it should be about thriving,” Takano, a gay man and cochair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, said in a press release. “LGBTQ students across the country who are being targeted by this wave of culture war politics are being denied safety in the educational institutions that are supposed to support them. We need to protect LGBTQ students’ right to thrive, to find joy in learning, to discover their passions, and to embark on the rest of their lives in educational settings that support and affirm them. We have to do better, and those in power must demand it.”

The resolution notes the hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ bills considered in state legislatures around the nation in the past few years, many of which specifically target public education and have been passed into law. These include Florida’s infamous “don’t say gay” law, banning instruction on LGBTQ+ topics, and the numerous laws restricting transgender students’ sports participation and use of restrooms and locker rooms.

“With the rise of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the last year, it is clear that queer youth need our help. GOP extremists are using the lives of this vulnerable population as political tools at the expense of their mental health and well-being,” Lee, vice-chair of the Equality Caucus, said in the release. “I am proud to stand with Congressman Takano and Senator Schatz to re-introduce the Rise Up for LGBTQI+ Youth in School Initiative. For the sake of our children’s lives, it is imperative for my colleagues to support this resolution to ensure their safety and success in school.”

“Every child should feel safe at school,” Schatz added. “As attacks against LGBTQ+ students increase across the country, we need to take action to protect these students and fight back against the discriminatory policies that harm them. Our resolution pledges support to LGBTQ+ students and makes clear this discrimination will not be tolerated in the Congress.”

The introduction coincides with the Day of (No) Silence, GLSEN’s reinvention of its Day of Silence, which has been an annual silent protest against homophobia and transphobia in schools since 1996. This year, instead of asking supporters of LGBTQ+ equality to stay silent for the day, GLSEN is calling on them to speak out and take action.

“This year has already been marked by tragic reminders of the persistent bullying and harassment faced by LGBTQI+ students, especially as extremists at every level of government continue to pursue discriminatory policies that exclude youth from equitable access to educational opportunity,” GLSEN Executive Director Melanie Willingham-Jaggers said in Takano’s release. “We must reject the politics of hate and division. Today, individuals across the country — including students, educators, activists, and allies — are coming together for GLSEN’s annual Day of (No) Silence to fight back against bullying and harassment in schools. I applaud Senator Schatz, Representative Takano, and Representative Lee for their sustained leadership in rising up for LGBTQI+ youth by leading this resolution and showing up with full faith in the boundless potential of the next generation.”

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring

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