The debate over bullying of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students at schools rose to levels far above that between gay-rights activists and evangelical groups, such as Focus on the Family, on Thursday. Tammy Aaberg, of Minnesota, appeared at the U.S. Capitol flanked by Minnesota U.S. senator, Al Franken and openly gay Congressman Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat, to speak about her son, Justin, who committed suicide in July after being bullied (via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune). Polis, Franken, and a slew of celebrities, including singer Clay Aiken, were there to call on politicians to pass the Student Non-Discrimination Act, meant to provide protections to students who are targeted, harassed, or discriminated against based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
“As the rash of suicides and violence have shown, school bullying affects students in both red states and blue states and is an issue that demands attention from the next Congress,” Polis says in a news release. “I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that all students can attend school and get a quality education, free from fear.” The proposed legislation has already reaped at least 127 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House and another 30 in the Senate. Congresswoman Linda Sánchez and Senator Bob Casey have also introduced a federal anti-bullying bill to protect people based on their race, sex, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity/expression.