Safe Schools, Families Dominate State Sessions

April 15, 2002

Proactive safe schools legislation and anti-GLBT family bills dominate activity in the many state legislatures, according to a report issued today by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. NGLTF has tracked more than 400 bills mdash; approximately 250 of these are favorable and 160 are unfavorable. Considering only GLBT-related (non-HIV/AIDS) bills, there are 195 favorable and 113 unfavorable bills.

"From the hateful rhetoric of Alabama's Chief Justice Roy Moore to the compassionate support of Rosie O'Donnell, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth and families continue to be in the foremost on the minds of legislators in many states," said Lorri L. Jean, NGLTF executive director. "NGLTF remains vigilant to attacks against our communities and will promote an agenda of full and complete equality for our families."

The following key developments have recently occurred in the 2002 state legislative session:

  • Washington passed a safe schools bill and Governor Locke signed it into law on March 30, 2002. The bill requires schools to adopt policies that prevent harassment, intimidation and bullying of students based on sexual orientation.

  • Maine strengthened protections afforded individuals who use marijuana for medical reasons. The bill also affords protection to caregivers. Maine was already one of eight states that permit the medical use of marijuana. A Maryland bill that would have allowed a medical necessity defense in possession cases failed in committee on March 25. A bill in Vermont to legalize usage for medical purposes passed the House overwhelmingly on March 15 but is reportedly on hold in the Senate due to opposition from pro-GLBT Governor Howard Dean.

  • Colorado House Bill 1356 would have prohibited two parents of the same sex from being listed on a child’s birth certificate and prohibit maternity and paternity suits between individuals of the same sex. Thankfully, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted on April 10 to postpone the measure, which in effect kills the bill.

GLBT related bills are moving at a sluggish pace during this legislative session, probably for two primary reasons. Not only are many legislatures mired in their states' fiscal problems, but the 2002 elections have most state legislators and governors on the ballot this November.

Now in its seventh year of monitoring, the NGLTF tracks legislation in all 50 states. For more information on this or previous state legislative sessions, please visit


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.