WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congressman Brad Schneider ( Illinois' 10th District ) announced legislation he will introduce 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 2017" 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.
"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 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."
Today's announcement coincides with Spirit Day 2017, an LGBTQ awareness day which encourages speaking out against LGBTQ bullying.
A recent study by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network found 57.6% of LGBTQ students who were harassed or assaulted in school did not report the incident to school staff, often because they doubted an intervention would occur or worried the situation could become worse if 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 provide a critical link to resources, education, information, and support for millions of Americans, but especially our LGBTQ youth," said Christopher Wood, Executive Director, LGBT Technology Partnership & Institute. "Regardless of their geographic location, whether in rural Alabama or urban Chicago, they deserve to have the same access to information and services online. We are proud to work with Rep. Schneider to introduce the Don't Block LGBT Act of 2017 and applaud his leadership to improve access for 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."
This legislation is supported by the following organizations:
LGBT Technology Partnership & Institute
Human Rights Campaign
National Black Justice Coalition
National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund
Transgender Law Center
The Trevor Project
CenterLink: The Community of LGBTQ Centers
Straight But Not Narrow
Free Speech Coalition
Los Angeles LGBT Center
Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center
Lost n Found Youth
Sacramento LGBT Community Center
Lincoln Park Strategies
LGBT Center of Southeast Wisconsin
Open Door Clinic of Greater Elgin
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States
The DC Center for the LGBT Community
The Montrose Center
Union for Reform Judaism
G III Associates
NEAT - the National Equality Action Team