“Does Obama Support SNDA?” (An Op-Ed)

Interesting editorial from The Advocate today–this one on what his advisers have recently said regarding the Student Non-Discrimination Act. SNDA would provide queer students–or students perceived as such–with federal protections via a ban on discrimination and harassment in public schools. The protection would include perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity. The ACLU says that while the Obama administration’s public comments seem to fall in line in terms of support for the legislation, they’re still falling quite short of what’s needed to make the law a reality.

From the piece: “During the White House Conference on Safe Schools and Communities held at the University of Texas at Arlington on Tuesday, Atty. Gen. Eric Holder and White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett both walked up to the line of an endorsement for the Student Non-Discrimination Act. Holder, echoing the remarks of Jarrett, said that the Obama administration ‘strongly supports the goals’ of SNDA, characterizing it as a critical next step that needs to be taken to ensure the continued progress of the LGBT community, and, in this case, students who are or are presumed to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender in our nation’s public K-12 schools.”

While some argue that “strongly supporting the goals”–which has been the line from the White House since the outset–is enough for now, critics argue simply isn’t enough. For example:

“One of the most critical reasons why the administration needs to endorse SNDA is Congress. A public endorsement from President Obama and his administration would make clear to all members of Congress what the administration views as a necessary federal legislative solution to the serious problem of anti-LGBT discrimination and harassment in our nation’s public schools. Saying that you support the goals of SNDA is a great first step, but it is not a replacement for an actual endorsement.”

And: “It is simply unfathomable that, in the year 2012, there is a not a federal civil rights law that specifically protects LGBT students on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Strong points.

It’s important to point out that federal laws presently protect students from discrimination and harassment on the basis of their race, color, sex, religion, disability, or national origin. While the present national political climate most certainly contributes to the Obama administration’s incremental approach to gay rights issues–see also: marriage–shouldn’t this sort of legislation–protecting children–be a no-brainer?

What say you, readers? Do you think the Obama administration is headed down the right path–or are they doing too little? Is this the right battle at the right time? Weigh in below. And be sure to check out the entire editorial here.