Groups angry over omission of bullying

LGBT groups are lining up against the annual bill to reauthorize spending for U.S. Department of Education, but it’s not what the department does that’s making them angry.

LGBT groups fired off an angry letter Tuesday to a long-time supporter of LGBT civil rights – Senator Tom Harkin, chairman of the U.S. Senate committee that oversees funding for the Department of Education. The problem, they said, was the committee’s vote to completely leave out funding for programs within the Department specifically aimed at combating anti-LGBT discrimination and harassment. In fact, the funding authorization bill, which passed last week, fails to even mention efforts to discourage anti-LGBT harassment.

Eights groups signed onto a November 1 letter to Harkin, saying that the absence of funding and mention of LGBT bullying “ensures that such discrimination and harassment will continue.”

Among those groups signing onto the letter were Lambda Legal, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, and PFLAG. Noticeably absent from the signature line was the largest LGBT national group –the Human Rights Campaign – and the most prominent group working to protect LGBT youth in schools – GLSEN.

Both groups told the Washington Blade that they support programs to combat bullying of LGBT students but HRC said it had no position on the underlying funding bill and GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) said it was focusing on bills specifically tackling anti-LGBT bullying.

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