As school gets under way and Equality Texas gears up for the 2011 legislative session, the statewide gay-rights organization is calling on members to contact their representatives and ask them to support LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying legislation. From the Action Alert:
Under current law, students are not specifically protected from bullying and harassment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. Current law does not establish a uniform state school conduct policy and does not provide for monitoring or enforcement of independent school district policies.
For the third legislative session, Equality Texas will be working to pass safe schools legislation. It will not pass until lawmakers know it is a top priority for their constituents. During the 81st Legislative Session, Rep. Mark Strama filed a bill relating to safe schools for all youth. While it was voted favorably out of committee, it died on the the floor of the Texas House of Representatives. Will this be the session to finally pass a safe schools bill?
As of this morning, Equality Texas reported that only 68 of 150 representatives had been contacted via the online advocacy campaign. To contact your representative, go here.
Also, while perusing the Equality Texas website, we couldn’t help but notice another recent advocacy campaign that we’d somehow missed in the wake of the Prop 8 ruling. It’s a fundraising letter from Equality Texas that calls attention to the need for advocacy right here at home and, to illustrate the point, highlights some differences between Texas and California:
• No form of statewide relationship recognition for same-sex couples.
• Allows employers to legally discriminate against LGBT Texans.
• Does not have a safe schools law that explicitly addresses sexual orientation and gender identity.
• Does not permit a same-sex partner to make a medical decision on behalf of his/her incapacitated partner in the absence of an advance directive.
• No clear adoption laws. Courts have used a parent’s sexual orientation to deny, restrict or modify custody and visitation.
• Hate crimes law explicitly includes “sexual preference.” No provision of Texas law explicitly addresses gender identity.
• Allows same-sex domestic partners to register and to receive essentially all of the rights and benefits of married couples under state law.
• Prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, appearance and behavior in the areas of employment (public and private), housing and public accommodations.
• Protects students from discrimination and hate violence on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.
• Allows same-sex domestic partners to make decisions on behalf of an incapacitated partner. Domestic partners and their children are specifically granted hospital visitation rights.
• Permits a same-sex couple to jointly petition to adopt.
• Hate crime law covers sexual orientation and gender identity.