Faith Organizations Urge Lawmakers to Take a Stand on LGBT Discrimination



Currently, federal law explicitly protects students from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, and disability. However, no federal law explicitly protects students from discrimination based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or their association with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. The Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 846/S. 439) would address this issue by explicitly prohibiting public schools from discriminating against any student based on the categories above.

The Student Non-Discrimination Act is expected to be voted on as an amendment to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in the Senate in the coming month. In preparation for this vote, the RAC organized a letter signed by thirty-six faith-based organizations and religious denominations in support of the Student Non-Discrimination Act, and the letter was sent to the Senate yesterday. The full text of the letter is below and a press release can be found here.

Dear Senator,

On behalf of our organizations, representing a diverse group of faith traditions and religious beliefs, we urge you to support the inclusion of the Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 846/S. 439) in any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Currently, federal law protects students from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, and disability. SNDA would build off of these protections by explicitly prohibiting public schools from discriminating against any student on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, or their association with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. It is long past time that all students, regardless of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, can attend school without facing discrimination.

Our faith traditions hold different and sometimes evolving beliefs about the nature of human sexuality and marriage, as well as gender identity and gender expression, but we can all agree on the fundamental premise that every child is entitled to a public education free of discrimination. Our faiths emphasize the importance of education and public education is one of the most critical services provided by our states and has significant implications for students’ success later in life.

Our faiths traditions also stress the need to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. Public school students who are LGBT, associate with LGBT people or are perceived to be LGBT face pervasive discrimination, which includes harassment, bullying, intimidation and violence. In addition to contributing to high rates of academic underachievement, discrimination at school causes adverse physical and mental health outcomes among LGBT youth, making them an especially vulnerable group of young people in our society. A 2013 survey found that 55.5% of LGBT students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, and 37.8% felt similarly because of their gender expression. Every single child deserves access to equal educational opportunities, and no student should be denied that fundamental right because they fear discrimination at school. Schools should be safe places of learning, not arenas of bullying and harassment.

SNDA applies only to public schools and therefore does not interfere with the operations of religious, private schools, and strikes a balance between the ability of all youth to obtain a public education free of discrimination, and the right of religious schools to operate based on the traditions and teachings of their faith. Thus, concerns about religious freedom should not hinder the passage of this important legislation.

Again, we urge you to support the inclusion of the Student Non-Discrimination Act in any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Sincerely,

African American Ministers in Action Equal Justice Task Force
AJC (American Jewish Committee)
American Conference of Cantors
Anti-Defamation League
Believe Out Loud
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
B’nai B’rith International
Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests
Central Conference of American Rabbis
DignityUSA
Disciples Home Missions
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Global Faith & Justice Project
The Global Justice Institute
Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc.
Hindu American Foundation
Interfaith Alliance
Jewish Labor Committee
Keshet
Metropolitan Community Churches
More Light Presbyterians
Mormons for Equality
Muslims for Progressive Values
Nehirim
New Ways Ministry
Open and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ
Rabbinical Assembly
ReconcilingWorks: Lutherans for Full Participation
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Jewish Reconstructionist Communities
Religious Institute
Union for Reform Judaism
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Wider Church Ministries of the United Church of Christ
Women of Reform Judaism
Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email
Uncategorized
Jordan Dashow

About Jordan Dashow

Jordan Dashow is a 2014-2015 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the RAC. He graduated in 2014 from Tufts University and is originally from Plainview, NY where he is a member of Manetto Hill Jewish Center.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Protect LGBT Students from Discrimination | Fresh Updates from RACFresh Updates from RAC - July 10, 2015

    […] is why the Reform Movement has long been an advocate for the Student Non-Discrimination Act and recently coordinated a letter of thirty-six faith-based organizations and religious denominations in support of the Student […]

  2. From Conversion Therapy to Vanity Fair: Looking Back on Pride Month 2015 | Fresh Updates from RACFresh Updates from RAC - June 25, 2015

    […] June 22, the RAC sent an interfaith letter to the Senate, signed by thirty-six faith based organizations and religious denominations, urging the Senate to […]

Leave a Reply

*

<