This election cycle has been one of the most contentious and hard-fought battles we have ever known. Regardless of Senate or House control, lawmakers in this country have many important bills that will greatly impact the futures of every citizen, young and old alike. With women’s rights, LGBT rights, the economy, and education at the forefront of this year’s election, many bills are under consideration that would directly impact the students of this country.
The Safe Schools Improvement Act, which was first introduced in 2011, would include comprehensive bullying and harassment coverage for schools and would require all schools in the country to have a broad-range plan of action to combat and prevent bullying and harassment of all students, LGBT included, in schools. While this bill was drafted with bipartisan support, it has yet to go beyond a Committee of lawmakers. If the Safe Schools Improvement Act is ultimately passed and signed into law, children throughout the country would have a safer environment in which to learn and a better chance of graduating from high school and continuing on with post-secondary education.
In addition to creating safer schools, we need to make sure that we are giving all students the best opportunities to compete with other countries in this economy. Many states have proposed legislation to create charter schools, public schools that receive federal and state funding but are able to create their own expectations (their charter). Charter schools typically focus on a specific area of education (Math, Science, Business, etc) and give students the chance to learn a specific set of skills that tie into their interests and potential future career endeavors. Forty-one states currently have laws outlining the formation of charter schools, with the other nine states drafting proposals for legislation.
With marriage equality passing in every state that had it on the ballot, the futures of LGBT teens are looking much brighter. As more students in those states feel comfortable coming out and acknowledging who they truly are, more schools will create Gay-Straight Alliances where students can raise awareness and socialize, giving young people more resources and outlets for support. These clubs and organizations are essential to fostering a safe environment for all students to grow, develop, and enrich their lives.
The outcome of this year’s election could have brought the country back and set back the women’s rights and LGBT rights movements, but with a President who supports gay rights and marriage equality, openly gay Senators and Representatives, and more nationwide support for equality, the next four years will be momentous and huge leap forward in the fight for total equality.