Rep. Schneider Announces Legislation to Stop Blocking of LGBTQ Resources
Today, during Pride Month 2020, Congressman Brad Schneider (IL-10) re-introduced legislation to ensure critical LGBTQ resources are not blocked at public schools and libraries.
Currently, public schools and libraries that receive discounted telecommunications and internet rates through the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) E-Rate program must enforce an internet safety policy that in some cases leads to the blocking of useful LGBTQ resources.
The “Don’t Block LGBTQ Act of 2020” would clarify that schools and libraries that block LGBTQ resources are not eligible for discounted rates under the E-rate program. This bill does not prevent schools from blocking obscene and other explicit content that could be harmful to minors, as current law intends. Schneider previously introduced the bill in the 115th Congress.
“The internet can be a critical source of information and support for LGBTQ youth, especially in moments of need” said Schneider. “No American should be prevented from accessing potentially life-saving resources because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. I’m proud to again introduce this legislation to ensure LGBTQ individuals are not prevented from getting help at important moments – whether asking health questions, responding to bullying, or seeking support to come out to family and friends."
According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, LGBTQ individuals suffer higher rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse and other health problems due to the discrimination they face. It is well documented that LGBTQ students particularly face discrimination and bullying in schools and that those students are less likely to report incidents of harassment to school staff because they doubt intervention will occur or worry that the situation could become worse it reported. Online websites and communities can be an important resource for LGBTQ youth in this difficult situation.
Similarly, the internet is an important source of health care information. In one study, LGBTQ youth were nearly twice as likely to have searched online for health and medical information compared to non-LGBTQ youth (81 versus 46 percent).
"Our public schools and libraries were designed to provide equal access to resources, education, information, and support for ALL Americans, but current law that allows lawful LGBTQ content to be restricted opens the opportunity for critical LGBTQ-specific resources to be blocked from those most in need, leaving a vulnerable community even further isolated,” said Christopher Wood, Executive Director, LGBT Technology Partnership & Institute. “Regardless of their geographic location, whether in rural Utah or urban Chicago, our community members deserve to have the same access to LGBTQ-specific information and services online. We are proud to work with Rep. Schneider to introduce the Don’t Block LGBTQ Act of 2020 and applaud his continued leadership to improve access for ALL LGBTQ Americans."
"LGBTQ Americans, especially LGBTQ young people, deserve opportunities to learn about the positive contributions of LGBTQ people to our society and to understand key issues impacting our community,” said Brian C. Johnson, Executive Director, Equality Illinois. “The Don't Block LGBTQ Act gives Americans just those opportunities. We applaud Congressman Schneider for his leadership on this effort."
“The Pinta Pride Project is so proud to see this inclusive bill come to light- libraries and schools must be safe spaces for members of the LGBTQ community. Hanging the rainbow flag, displaying safe space stickers and making sure that all places where learning is shared have explicit signage of queer inclusivity are lifesaving. Carrying LGBTQ materials is an absolute necessity. Many teens do not have the support at home that they need to be their authentic selves, so they look to the outside world to show them that they are valid. The Don’t Block LGBTQ Act aims to fulfill this exact need and we could not be more delighted to help our Congressman to support it in any way possible!” said Carolyn Pinta of the Pinta Pride Project.
The following Members of Congress are original cosponsors of this legislation: David Cicilline, Ruben Gallego, Raul Grijalva, Alcee Hastings, Joe Kennedy, Alan Lowenthal, Sean Patrick Maloney, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mike Quigley, Eric Swalwell, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Schneider previously introduced the bill in October 2017.
This legislation is supported by the following organizations:
- LGBT Technology Partnership & Institute
- 360 Youth Services
- Affirmations LGBTQ Community Center
- Artists Designing Evolution (adé PROJECT)
- Athlete Ally
- Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center
- Brave Space Alliance
- Brooklyn Community Pride Center
- CAMP Rehoboth
- Center on Halsted
- CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
- Ct TransAdvocacy Coalition
- Equality California
- Equality North Carolina
- Family Equality
- FORGE, Inc.
- Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network
- Hudson Pride Center
- Human Rights Campaign
- Inside Out Youth Services
- LGBT Center of Raleigh
- LGBT Center of SE Wisconsin
- LGBT Life Center
- The LGBTQ Center
- Los Angeles LGBT Center
- Louisville Youth Group Inc.
- Modern Military Association of America
- the Montrose Center
- Movement Advancement Project
- National Black Justice Coalition
- National Coalition for LGBT Health
- National Equality Action Team (NEAT)
- National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund
- Newburgh LGBTQ+ Center
- OutCenter of Southwest Michigan
- OutReach LGBTQ+ Community Center
- The Pennsylvania Youth Congress
- Persad Center
- PFLAG National
- Pgh Equality Center
- Pinta Pride Project
- PowerOn, a program of LGBT Technology Institute
- The Pride Center at Community Park
- Pride Community Services Organization
- Rainbow Center
- Ruth Ellis Center, Inc.
- Seacoast Outright (Portsmouth, NH)
- Silver State Equality-Nevada
- Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender & Sexual Diversity (SOJOURN)
- The Spahr Center
- The Trevor Project
- Triangle Community Center
- True Colors, Inc.
- Waves Ahead & SAGE PR
- Youth Outlook
- Youth OUTright