Student Non Discrimination Act

What is SNDA?

  • SNDA Defined: The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) is a federal bill that would prohibit bullying, harassment, and discrimination against students because of their sexual orientation or gender identity or because they have LGBT parents or friends.

  • Terms Defined: “Sexual orientation” means homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality. “Gender identity” means the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual's designated sex at birth.

Why is SNDA Necessary?

  • Students at Risk: Students are frequently targeted for bullying, harassment, or discrimination because they are or are perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) or because their parents or friends are LGBT. A 2008 study found that 42% of children with parents who are LGBT were verbally harassed in the past year because of who their parents are. This discrimination negatively impacts students’ ability to learn or be actively involved in school programs.

  • Patchwork of Laws: Currently 16 states and the District of Columbia prohibit bullying and harassment on the basis of a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Six of these prohibit bullying or harassment against a student for his or her association with LGBT people: whether the student has LGBT parents or friends.  This patchwork of laws creates a patchwork of laws, leaving some students with no adequate protection against bullying or harassment.

How does SNDA protect students?

  • K-12: Similar to Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibited educational discrimination on the basis of sex, SNDA would prohibit any incident of discrimination, harassment, or bullying in grades K-12 that negatively impact a student’s ability to participate in school-related programs or activities.

  • Definition: The definition of “discrimination” in SNDA includes bullying and harassment that interferes with a student’s ability to learn or participate in school.    

  • Enumeration: Studies show that when an anti-bullying or harassment policy lists the characteristics that are protected, students feel safer seeing themselves in that list and teachers and administrators feel more comfortable intervening when they see bullying or harassment.  Teachers and administrators also feel more comfortable reporting incidents of bullying or harassment to students’ parents and to the proper authorities.

Who supports SNDA?

  • Broad Coalition: Important members of the coalition supporting SNDA include the American Association of University Women, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, the NAACP, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Council of La Raza, the National Education Association, and the National Women’s Law Center.

For more information contact:
Emily Hecht-McGowan, Director of Public Policy at emily.hecht@familyequality.org

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