Tester stands with LGBT students

Senator sponsors Student Non-Discrimination Act to stop harassment

(BIG SANDY, Mont.) – Former teacher and Senator Jon Tester is sponsoring a bill to make harassment and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students illegal.

Tester’s bill, the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA), addresses the discrimination, harassment, and bullying that LGBT students encounter at school. Currently, federal law does not expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Tester’s bill prohibits excluding public school students from educational activities based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Our public schools must be safe places to learn. Harassment and bullying people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is unacceptable and must not be tolerated,” Tester said. “Every student should have an equal opportunity to participate in the classroom, field trips, sports, music, and art without fear or discrimination.”

Recent studies have shown harassment and discrimination leads to higher rates of absenteeism and dropout rates among LGBT students than their peers.

“We are thankful to have Senator Tester as an ally to young people in Montana and across the nation in his advocacy for the Student Non-Discrimination Act,” said Heidi Wallace, Executive Director of National Coalition Building Institute in Missoula. “As the statewide resource for the Montana GSA Network we work with young people across Montana everyday who face bullying and mistreatment in their schools. The SNDA will ensure universal accountability for creating safe and inclusive school communities where all students can succeed and thrive.”

“Senator Tester’s work to protect LGBT Montanans is to be commended. These policies would offer real protection and promote dignity, security, and fairness for Montanans,” said Kim Abbott, Co-Director of the Montana Human Rights Network.

Tester has also supported the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to protect LGBT adults from discrimination in the workplace and the Hate Crimes Prevention Act that expanded the 1969 United States Federal Hate Crimes Act to cover gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

The Student Non-Discrimination Act is available online HERE.