This year’s session of the Louisiana Legislature begins today, March 12th, and adjourns on June 4.
Forum For Equality has three important legislative bills we’re working hard to pass this session and we need your support! Please read over the information below and familiarize yourself with these issues.
1) LA Bullying Prevention Act
House Bill 407 by Rep. Patricia Smith is entitled the Bullying Prevention Act of 2012 and will strengthen our state’s current bullying laws and prohibit the harassment, intimidation and bullying of students in public elementary and secondary schools. Forum For Equality is honored to be part of the larger Stop Bullying Louisiana Coalition that has worked together for months to advocate for these important changes to current law.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth and their counterparts face verbal and physical bullying on a daily basis just for being who they are or for demonstrating their own gender identity or gender expression. Louisiana law does not currently enumerate or detail a standard anti-bullying policy to which schools must adhere. This bill, if it becomes law, serves to fill some major gaps in Louisiana’s current, anemic anti-bullying law by more clearly defining the ways in which bullying occurs and listing examples of actual or perceived characteristics among children which could potentially put them at a higher risk for being bullied. This process is currently left to that of the individual schools or local school boards. The lack of compulsory policies allows for students to be victimized and targeted unfairly within our school systems.
2) Second Parent Adoption Bill
Forum For Equality is working hard with the National Association of Social Workers (Louisiana chapter) to help pass a Second-parent adoption bill, House Bill _____ by Rep. Jared Brossett. This bill is in the process of being filed and would recognize two parents as legal guardians to a child or children originally adopted by a single person. Currently, Louisiana law does not permit a child to be adopted by a couple that is not married, no matter how long they have lived together. This is true of heterosexual couples and same-sex couples. Current law is inconsistent with the generally accepted concept that a second legally recognized parent can benefit a child’s welfare. Allowing an unmarried parent to have his/her committed partner co-adopt the child is commonly known as second parent or fictive step-parent adoption.
Bill # currently being assigned by the Louisiana State Legislature …..stay tuned !!!
3) State Employment Non-discrimination Protections Bill
Senate Bill 100 by Sen. Ed Murray is our Employment Non-Discrimination bill and applies to state government employees. This bill will expand the enumerated policy of protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity and gender expression. Employment in the state is at-will, meaning an employer can hire and fire an employee for any reason not protected by federal and state laws, making it all that more important to cover LGBT employees of state government.
There are only a few places in the state that have passed local inclusive nondiscrimination policies including the City of Shreveport, Lafayette and New Orleans. In general, though, there is very little recourse for the vast majority of LGBT state employees who are unfairly denied employment or lose their jobs because of discrimination. All residents should be treated fairly and equally by the laws of our state. A similar bill has been filed by Rep. Helena Moreno on the Forum’s behalf as HB 691.