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Public Statements

Hearing of the House Rules Committee - Elementary and Secondary Education Act


Location: Washington, DC

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) speaks in favor of Congressman Polis' amendment and she also voted for it in the Rules Committee, even though it did not pass. Below are Ileana's remarks regarding Cong. Polis' Amendment to ESEA. Ileana is also a co-sponsor of the Polis amendment and of ESEA.

"Throughout the years, much has been achieved to protect kids from the devastating effects of bullying and discrimination. However, one frequently targeted group of students has remained largely overlooked.

LGBT students are particularly vulnerable to harassment and bullying within our education system, and they currently lack the protections that would prohibit this dreadful behavior.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, it is estimated that over 85% of LGBT students report being harassed in school. Bullying can have severely detrimental effects. For one, bullied LGBT students are known to suffer from diminished educational results.

It can also bring health issues, self-inflicted violence and even suicide. It is frightening to learn that many of these individuals feel let down by the very adults who are there to educate and protect them.

A majority of harassed LGBT students do not report incidents to their teachers, believing that little or no action would be taken or fearing that the situation could worsen.

Federal law prohibits discrimination and harassment based on race, gender and religion. Yet, it does nothing to curb discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Currently, Federal law is failing LGBT students.

Discrimination against LGBT students in public schools across this country is an unacceptable daily reality. It is my firm conviction that every student deserves the opportunity to attend school without a fear of being targeted for harassment and discrimination simply based on their sexual orientation.

The Polis amendment, and the Student Non-Discrimination Act legislation it is based on, will ensure that all students have access to a safe public education, free from discrimination and harassment, and I am proud to co-sponsor it."

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