Al Franken asks public for help passing Student Non-Discrimination Act

Sen. Al Franken

Sen. Al Franken

Sen. Al Franken, D – Minnesota, is asking the public for help passing S. 555, The Student Non-Discrimination Act, a bill that would prohibit discrimination against public school students on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Under the provisions of S. 555 students who experienced discrimination because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or because of their association with LGBT people could bring a civil suit against the school officials or districts responsible for the discrimination. The bill currently has 34 co-sponsors (none from Texas) and its House companion (H.R. 998 by Rep. Jared Polis, D – Colorado) has 150 (with 7 Texan co-sponsors including Houston’s own Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green) . Both bills have been referred to committee but neither has received a hearing, a crucial step towards becoming law.

In the video requesting the public call their Senators (after the break) Franken points out that federal law already provides protection for school children harassed because of race, color, sex, religion, disability, and national origin, but that no protection exists for sexual orientation or gender identity.

The inclusion of “association” in S. 555 is particularly well thought out. According to the Williams Institute nearly 1 in 5 same-sex couples in the United States is raising children, in Harris County 18% of same-sex couples are.  As these children enter school it’s important that they be able to receive an education without harassment or bullying due to who their parents are.

Franken is asking people to call the Senate switchboard at 202-224-3121 and encourage their Senator’s to support the bill.

—  admin

Jesuit students help out with No Tie Dinner

One of the perks of living in the area known as Greenway Crest — even if it’s just a guesthouse — is that I receive the Park Cities version of The Dallas Morning News’ Neighbors Go section. Needless to say, there’s rarely LGBT-related stuff in there, but last week was an exception. Neighbors Go featured a nice story, which was later reprinted in the actual DMN, about Jesuit College Preparatory School students who are helping out with the annual No Tie Dinner benefiting AIDS Services of Dallas, which is coming up on Saturday:

The students will be picking up desserts, hanging banners and setting up tables and auction items in preparation for the 2,000 guests expected to attend.

“These kids get it,” O’Conner said. “It’s not just required community service.”

In addition to AIDS Services’ annual fundraiser, Jesuit students also collect about 2,000 bottles of laundry detergent for the residents in an annnual drive. A handful of seniors volunteer every Wednesday to clean, paint, and even play bingo with the residents.

Once a month, the school’s clubs shop and cook for the residents and eat a meal with them, said Rich Perry, Jesuit director of community service.

For the students, it’s a life lesson.

“It puts things in perspective in life,” said senior Walker Mangin, a Wednesday volunteer. “You think more about what’s really important.”

For information on the No Tie Dinner, go here.


—  John Wright