White House LGBT Conference on Safe Schools and Communities

The White House is continuing its series of dialogues with the LGBT community today with an event in Arlington, Texas, on safe schools and communities.

The Task Force is participating in the daylong gathering that includes panel sessions featuring senior Obama administration officials and nationally recognized subject matter experts, workshop sessions co-facilitated by community advocates and keynote remarks by Attorney General Eric Holder and White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett.

Previous dialogues focused on health and on housing and homelessness.

The White House and the Department of Education have been helpful in moving forward on some anti-LGBT bullying and harassment issues in primary education settings. But there is still more work to be done.
According to our National Transgender Discrimination Survey, transgender people face alarming rates of harassment (78%) and physical assault (35%) in K-12 schools because of their gender identity. Fifty-one percent of respondents who said they were bullied also reported attempting suicide.

See the National Center for Transgender Equality’s Blueprint for Safe and Supportive Schools: A Resource for the Obama Administration’s LGBT Conference on Education for more statistics and policy recommendations.

On Capitol Hill, the Task Force and others are advocating for the passage of legislation to combat anti-LGBT bullying. These bills include the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act.

Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey said of the bullying problem:

The epidemic of bullying in our nation’s educational institutions is a tragedy and an outrage. No student should fear getting beaten up, harassed and tormented while simply trying to get an education. We have a responsibility to ensure all young people are protected from this pervasive bullying, discrimination and abuse. The effects from bullying can be profoundly damaging. Parents, educators, policymakers — all of us — need to stand against this unacceptable behavior.

You can watch the conference live here.