A candidate for the U.S. Senate has come under fire for criticizing the Student Non-Discrimination Act, legislation meant to protect children, becuase she said it “criminalizes” teasing.
Heather Wilson, who formerly represented New Mexico’s first Congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives and is now running for the U.S. Senate, said that SNDA “is so broad that it would actually punish children, or say it’s prohibited to express an opinion with respect to homosexuality in schools.”
The Human Rights Campaign – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization – called Wilson’s remarks “shockingly ignorant” and said they reflect how unaware she is of the realities kids face in school on a daily basis.
“Bullying and harassment of kids who are LGBT, or who are perceived to be LGBT, is a serious problem. Our lawmakers have a moral obligation to protect children.” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.
“Heather Wilson should be sending a message that verbal and physical abuse is never acceptable behavior. Instead, she’s saying harassment based on someone’s real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity is a normal way for bullies to express their opinion.”
Wilson has a staunchly anti-LGBT track record, according to the HRC. She has voted against workplace protections for LGBT employees and supports a federal marriage amendment that would ban same-sex marriage.
“Heather Wilson isn’t just disagreeing with SNDA from a policy perspective, she is devaluing the everyday experiences, health, and safety of LGBT youth. Bullying or harassing another human being is never acceptable, regardless of your personal beliefs,” Solmonese added.
Earlier Friday, the White House released a statement indicating President Barack Obama supports both the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) and the Student Non-Discrimination Act.
The SNDA would prohibit discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.