ding students.” This bill aims to better address

ding LegislationOn April 4th, 2017 the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act.  The mission of this bill is “to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to address and take action to prevent bullying and harassment of students.”  This bill aims to better address issues of bullying in schools as it can negatively affect students’ academic achievement, as well as foster other negative psychological effects.  It names gender identity and sexual orientation as specific characteristics for which a student might be bullied.  It aims to combat bullying through implementation of new anti-bullying programs and improved reporting of instances of bullying in schools to other educational agencies.  The bill also states none of its components are to contradict or invalidate any previously-existing federal or state anti-discrimination law (H.R.1957, 2017).Additionally, the House of Representatives introduced the BRAVE Act on July 19th, 2017.  This bill is designed to make schools more accountable in reporting instances of bullying that occur to local educational agencies, and aid with equal protection claims to those whose schools have failed to report and appropriately respond to the bullying cases.  Students discriminated against for their LGBT status are included as protected members of the bill (H.R. 5959, 2017).The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act was introduced to the House of Representative on July 28, 2017, and regards providing schools with grants as incentive for teaching comprehensive sexual education classes.  Some of the provisions preventing a school from receiving these grants include, but are not limited to, sexual education programs which withhold information on sexually-related topics like HIV, promote gender and racial stereotypes, and are insensitive or exclusionary to the needs of youth of varying gender identities and sexual orientations (H.R. 3602, 2017).The Equality Act is a more explicit piece of legislation in defending LGBT rights.  This act would amend many existing civil rights laws by specifically adding gender identity and sexual orientation to the list of protected demographics from discrimination of public services, including education.  Support for this bill, or one similar to it, is over 70% nationwide, across all political affiliations.  This bill was introduced to Congress on May 2, 2017, and had 241 original cosponsors, giving it the largest amount of congressional support than any other pro-LGBT bill (Human Rights Campaign, 2017).Finally, the Student Non-Discrimination Act aims to “prohibit public schools from discriminating against any student on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity,” or that identity of one with whom a student socializes.  It would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of demographics already nationally protected from discrimination, such as race, sex, disability status, and nationality.  While this bill has the support of various civil rights organizations, it did not pass when introduced to the 114th Congress, and has yet to be introduced to the 115th Congress (Human Rights Campaign, 2017).Gay-Straight Alliances    The GSA Network defines a Gay-Straight Alliance (or Gender & Sexuality Alliance) club as:A student-run club, typically in a high school or middle school, which provides a safe place for students to meet, support each other, talk about issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, and work to end homophobia and transphobia.These clubs serve to function as a support system for LGBT youth, as well as foster an environment for these marginalized students to meet and socialize with others like them.  Some GSAs also take on the role of an activist, and work to educate their school and surrounding community on LGBT issues, as well as organizing or attending LGBT pride or awareness events (GSA Network, n.d.).A study published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence from the Peabody Research Institute at Vanderbilt University, found that LGBT students at schools with GSAs reported experiencing fewer instances of bullying due to their LGBT status, and thus felt safer at school.  The study reported LGBT students at schools without a GSA were 52% more likely to hear homophobic remarks, 36% more likely to fear for their personal safety, and 30% more likely to be victimized.  One of the study’s publishers, Heather Hensman Kettrey, recommends implementing GSAs in all high schools as a favorable solution to victimization of LGBT students.  She explains that, according to their data, “having a GSA can send a strong message to all students that their school is a welcoming place where all people are accepted and that homophobic acts will not be tolerated.”  Though in many areas the suggestion of creating a GSA may be received negatively due to a more conservative social climate, the right to establishing a GSA at any school is protected under the Equal Access Act.