Yesterday, the Senate HELP Committee’s mark-up of the No Child Left Behind bill failed to consider Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) Student Non-Discrimination Act, which would establish “comprehensive federal prohibition against discrimination and bullying in public schools based on sexual orientation or gender identity.” In a brief statement, Franken said some senators on the committee feared the act would jeopardize bipartisan support for the entire education bill, but pledged to offer the measure on the floor of the Senate and predicted that it would pass if put to a vote. Franken went on to link his anti-bullying legislation to the civil rights laws of the 1960s and Title IX legislation, before noting that “we are faced with a group of students that is facing pervasive, systemic, discrimination” and “there is no law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in schools.” Watch it:
The committee passed the education bill in a bipartisan vote of 15–7. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), the sponsor of a similar Safe Schools Improvement Act, also offered his measure as an amendment but withdrew it before the final vote. Neither act has attracted the 60 co-sponsors necessary to withstand a filibuster in the Senate.