Would you stand up in defense of a child who was being bullied? I hope your answer is yes.
Now, what if that child were gay? Hopefully, you didn't have to give that question any more thought than the first one.
Bullying is an unfortunate reality of adolescence, but it isn't an inevitability. As events over the past year have shown, bullying is far from harmless, especially when the young person being picked on is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. We can and must put a stop to it.
Far too often, schools turn a blind eye to bullying. Sometimes, however, they do something even worse.
When a school district in Texas recently moved to ban all extra-curricular clubs in order to avoid having to approve a Gay-Straight Alliance, it really crossed the line. The school itself became the bully.
As leaders in their local communities and in our country as a whole, members of Congress have an imperative to stand up to this kind of unfair treatment. They need to protect our children from bullying, whether those children are straight or gay.
In that spirit, Senator Al Franken and I introduced a new bill last week. It's called the Student Non-Discrimination Act and, if passed, it would protect LGBT students from bullying, discrimination, and harassment. And through my new initiative, The Fearless Campaign, we're doing everything we can to turn the bill into law.
Our message to the bullies is clear: Pick on someone your own size.
I'll be honest with you: The odds of this bill passing this session are uncertain. The odds, however, are getting better.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi signed on as a co-sponsor of SNDA this week, lending it the credibility and attention it deserves. Even with Congresswoman Pelosi's support, though, many of my colleagues are reluctant to vote for ANY LGBT-friendly legislation even when it means protecting our children.
That's why it's so important that you join us -- to show the leaders in Congress what it really means to be leaders. The odds may be against us, but we can't stay silent.