* Mr. INSLEE. Mr. Speaker, a fundamental principle of our nation's education system is that all schools should provide students with a safe environment that allows them to learn without fear of harassment or discrimination. Unfortunately, we are not doing nearly a good enough job to provide this type of environment for our children, as far too many students go to school every day facing anti-LGBT bullying and discrimination. Allowing this sort of atmosphere to exist anywhere is unconscionable and wrong.
* Over the last fifty years, the federal government has taken action to require that all schools receiving federal funds prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, disability, and age. These laws are now in desperate need of updating, in order to expressly protect students from discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This gap has left students and guardians with limited legal recourse in case of discrimination and harassment, and the federal government currently faces a dearth of information on how deep the problem runs. As a result, I am adding my name as a cosponsor to H.R. 998 and H.R. 1648 to help address these issues. While this law would place additional reporting requirements on cash-strapped school districts, I hope the federal government can work with states to share in this burden.
* Studies have shown just how detrimental an impact this type of treatment can have on LGBT youth. Among the many potential consequences of anti-LGBT bullying are increased absenteeism, academic underachievement, and serious health consequences. The need for this legislative change has only been made more acute recently, as we have seen far too many tragic deaths arise from the terrors of bullying in schools. I refuse to stand by and let any more suicides occur among students who were not sufficiently protected from harassment at school.
* While these bills address discriminatory activities occurring on school grounds, we must also encourage parents in every state to provide safe, healthy environments at home. This is particularly important as we continue to see a steep rise in cyber bullying, which can further isolate youth in desperate need of an open and honest environment. I look forward to working with my colleagues to modernize our federal laws to recognize this serious and growing problem as well.