Discrimination and harassment in public schools
"Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2010"
In this website, "LGBT" is an an acronym that refers
to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and transgender persons.
Protecting students by promoting safe schools:
H.R. 4530, the Federal "Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2010" has been introduced into the House to help combat discrimination against students in the public schools on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
The bill specifically protects students of all sexual orientations and all gender identities. However, in practice, homosexual or transgender 1-- and to a smaller degree bisexual --students are almost always the target of this type of discrimination. Thus they are the students who would mainly benefit from the bill if it becomes law. Reports in the media and over the Internet are treating the bill as pro-gay and pro-transgender legislation, and ignoring any benefits that heterosexual and cisgendered students would derive from the bill.
The bill mirrors a conflict in the school system:
- Some feel that bullying, harassment, and other forms of discrimination poison the school environment, and need to be suppressed. Such behaviors interfere with students' ability to learn. In extreme situations they have contributed to clinical depression, suicidal ideation and even suicide.
- Others feel that it is extremely important that school staff and students be free to influence and even pressure students to abandon their homosexual orientation or transgender identity and become heterosexual or cisgendered. 1
The conflict is complicated because there is no consensus in the culture as to:
- Which sexual orientations and gender identities are normal and acceptable.
- Whether youths with minority orientation or identity should be pressured to adopt the most common orientaiton or identity.
- Whether it is possible to change one's orientation or identity.
- Which are the evils: same-sex sexual behavior or homophobia; responding to one's transgender identity or transphobia?
Meanings of terms:
We use definitions related to sexual orientation and gender identity as generally used by the mental health professional community:
- Sexual orientation is defined by the gender of individuals to whom a person is sexually attracted.
- A person with a heterosexual orientation is attracted only to persons of the opposite sex.
- A person with a homosexual orientation is attracted only to persons of the same sex.
- A person with a bisexual orientation is attracted to both men and women, although not necessarily to the same degree.
- Gender identity is defined by a person's perceived gender and their genetic gender.
- A transgender person identifies themselves by a gender that is different from their genetic gender. Some describe themselves as a female trapped in a male body, or vice-versa.
- A cisgendered person is a member of the vast majority of humans who identify themselves by a gender that is the same as their genetic gender.
Topics in this section on discrimination-free schools:
Copyright © 2010 by Ontario Consultants on
Originally written: 2010-FEB-11
Latest update: 2010-FEB-15
Author: B.A. Robinson