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Franken pushes anti-bullying amendment to education bill

In the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee on Thursday, Sen. Al Franken spoke about his Student Non-Discrimination Act and lamented that the bill, which would beef up national anti-bullying policies, was not included in the proposed revamp of No Child Left Behind that’s being considered in the Senate.

Franken spoke of several recent suicides of LGBT students around the country, including Justin Aaberg who attended the Anoka-Hennepin School District.

“Our federal laws say you cannot discriminate based on religion, race, sex, disability or national origin, but they do not explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex orientation or gender identity,” Franken told the committee. “We are faced with a a group of students that is facing pervasive systemic discrimination. They are being viciously harassed and bullied, they are dropping out of school, staying home from school and they are literally killing themselves. Our schools aren’t doing enough to stop it.”

Franken said he was disappointed that the amendment wouldn’t be added to the No Child Left Behind bill but that he would press to have it included when the full Senate takes up the bill.

“I would like to make it clear that if it came up for a vote, it would pass by bipartisan support,” he said.

Here are Franken’s remarks during the committee meeting on Thursday:

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