Senator Daines Votes against Protecting Bullied LGBTQ Kids

Today, Senator Daines joined the majority of the Republican caucus in the Senate to block an amendment to the ongoing revision of No Child Left Behind that would have mandated that local school districts protect students from “discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in public schools.” The proposal, which Senator Al Franken has been trying to pass for five years, would have extended already existing protections in place for students prohibiting discrimination based on sex, religion or race. An important component of the proposal is that it would have not only prohibited bullying by students, but also discriminatory school policies—something that is still all too real for many students.

The bullying and harassment of LGBTQ students is indisputable. The 2013 National School Climate Survey offers a litany of statistics, some of the most striking including:

  • 55.5% of LGBT students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, and 37.8% because of their gender expression.
  • 51.4% of students reported hearing homophobic remarks from their teachers or other school staff, and 55.5% of students reported hearing negative remarks about gender expression from teachers or other school staff.
  • 74.1% of LGBT students were verbally harassed (e.g., called names or threatened) in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 55.2% because of their gender expression.

That discrimination and abuse is no doubt partially responsible for LGBTQ kids being twice as likely to attempt suicide.

The argument that these policies are best developed by local school boards ignores the obvious fact that schools most in need of those policies, most likely to have unsupportive or even hostile environments for LGBTQ students, are the least likely to develop them.

No one is naïve enough to believe that a federal law prohibiting discrimination will end it, but it sends an important signal to students that we care when we acknowledge their concerns. Senator Daines apparently doesn’t believe in offering that kind of support to some of our most vulnerable students, a view no doubt influenced by his retrograde views about equality and his refusal to accept that society should not tolerate discrimination.

Senator Tester voted to help protect high school kids from discrimination.

Below is Senator Franken explaining the need for the amendment that Senator Daines would not support:


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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • Well Steve Daines is a neanderthal on matters such as this so what do you expect? Apologies to the neanderthals.

  • A guy who hangs out and embodies all that is wrong with Ted Cruz. the man is a follower of old hate and backwards thinking.

  • This trojan horse bill would have institutionalized bullying of Christians who consider such behavior sinful. It is so bad that schools now refrain from using the terms “mother” and “father” to describe parents.

    • Your god flooded the Earth, destroyed cities with a thought, stopped the world for 3 days, and parted a sea. Why would you think him so small that you need a government to defend your ‘right’ to harass and judge others in his name?

      • Christians are not to judge. That is God’s job, and when he does he won’t be using water. But now we are called to put to death our sinful nature in the mini flood of Baptism, so that people can be saved from God’s wrath against their sin and evil.

        Maybe you prefer a false god that doesn’t have any qualms with evil? Maybe a god that prefers and revels in evil?

        Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
        (Matthew 28:18–20 ESV)

        I don’t worry for my God, but our nation and its people whom I love. Sin has consequences in this life and the next. To ignore that, and to remain silent is the deepest form of hate.

        When Saul persecuted the church, rounding up Christians and jailing them, God himself in Christ Jesus suffered with those early Christians.

        Jesus said, “‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’” (Acts 26:14 ESV)

        Here we see that Jesus suffers with us in the beheadings, and the torture of ISIS.

        Does your god suffer with you?

        • Nice sermon. Please save it for your congregation because I haven’t willingly stepped into your building to be talked down to by a zealot. And that’s the point of the question you evaded answering. Your god gave you a commandment and a restriction, preach its word and don’t presume that you have the authority to judge others. However, we live in a country under rule of law, law that says I don’t have to go to your building on Sunday and be talked down to by a zealot. You can preach it, brother. And I can ignore you, make fun of you, even make fun of your god. The only impediment to any of that, if you see that as ‘bullying’ are your rights and my rights. Lord knows, it hasn’t down jackall to stop it.

          Those are rights. Affording protection of right to people subject to emotional, physical and spiritual violence is a matter of law. Notice, there is nothing in that effort at all that denies your right to talk down to people on Sunday, or on a street corner, or on a website or really any where you wish to preach. What you can’t do is deny the rights of others because of the law, and it helps that your god told you not to do that in the first place. Just a thought, but maybe it’s the bullies you should be preaching to instead of the gay sinners who are exactly as your god made them. After all, aren’t those the folk sinning greatest by usurping the authority of your lord against its direct admonition?

          The thing is, Pastor Gordish, I and many others don’t need the threat of eternal damnation to understand that one should treat others rights as fundamentally integral as our own. That includes yours. How else could I not be freaking out that your god collects so much money and we can’t even tax it for that. That’s correct, it’s because that is your very mundane and very human right under law. Uhhh, that is as long as you keep your god out of our rights and our laws. You can’t show one single reason that protecting a specific class of sinners weakens your rights, unless it is exactly your intention to force your god into our rule of law. Then we have a problem. But don’t fret, soon, I’m certain very soon, your god will unleash his angels (isn’t the rainbow a sign of its promise never to do that again?) and all us right loving sinners will get the justice we deserve. Or… the gay agenda will turn out to be that they just want to live their lives unmolested like the rest of us, your church will remain happily tax free and you can talk down to anyone who will listen, and you will go to your grave only slightly disappointed that god didn’t come back and kick my butt for blaspheming your defense of being a jerk to your fellow humans.

          • You said, “Those are rights. Affording protection of right to people subject to emotional, physical and spiritual violence is a matter of law.”

            This sentence is garbled and I don’t understand it.

            You said, “Just a thought, but maybe it’s the bullies you should be preaching to instead of the gay sinners who are exactly as your god made them. After all, aren’t those the folk sinning greatest by usurping the authority of your lord against its direct admonition?”

            Firstly, the gay sinners are the bullies. Look around you! Bible publishers sued. Cake decorators fined. Christian ministers ordered to submit sermons to the Mayor’s office in Houston. CEO’s and founders of tech companies who were found to support Prop. 8 in California removed from the company. This is really happening in America. Talk about breaches of our First Amendment right to free speech!

            Secondly, what evidence is there that a god made homosexual behavior? “who are exactly as your god made them “. I’ve read the Book, God doesn’t bring sin into the world. You seem to be saying that homosexuals are exactly the way the are because of something physical in them that they cannot control. How does that jive with the transgender who despite every cell in their body containing code for their sex, can and must change who they are? I don’t believe that anyone “is” a homosexual. I believe that people do homosexual acts and have homosexual feelings, but it is not something that they cannot change. I can provide plenty of evidence that people change from homosexual to heterosexual behavior, and vice versa. What evidence do you have that homosexual behavior is predetermined?

          • Gordish, you are either a most practiced liar (well, you are a “holy” man and all), or you are supremely ignorant. ‘Right’ is a matter of law. If you find that garbled, you are lying or an idiot. The bakery was not fined because they refused to bake a cake, but because they doxxed the couple who ordered one and their children, encouraging Christian bullying. In case you don’t know what doxxing is, that’s releasing the hounds of your loving god by posting personal information on the Internet, such that the sinners and their children can be threatened with rape and worse in the name of your just god. Again, you are either lying or ignorant, and after only two examples, I’m leaning towards you being a liar.

            The ‘man sues bible publishers’ is actually from 2008, because the publishers deliberately changed text easily verifiable by translation. He was right. Your holy sermonizers lied, and here you are agreeing with the lie. Are you a liar or ignorant?

            Being a CEO, though I can’t find one instance of an actual CEO being removed because of support for Prop 8, is not protected as speech. If a private company deems you bad for business, they can fire you. And if they were just defending the word of god, where is your god now? Again, are you lying or ignorant?

            I am done discussing with you either way. I’m not going to discuss genetics with you, most certainly because you seem extremely ignorant (or lying) about that as well. 6000 years of science, probably longer but that might offend your lack of sense, has never decreed that I have to educate the ignorant, as your impotent god apparently has done. You have no facts, only butthurt that you aren’t getting god’s way, a god who already told you that you have no authority to judge that.

            And just because I know that you will claim this is bullying, I don’t have to come to your Sunday house to be talked down to by a zealot. You didn’t have to come here to be educated by me. We both exercised our American rights, that came from law, not god. That was your choice, preacher. Don’t step in an alligator pond expecting your god to defend you when you have ample evidence that he won’t.

          • Then again, maybe you should be thanking me. Think of the sermon you’ll get out of convincing your flock that the wolves are out there with pesky facts and such, and if only they’ll give more, your loving and powerful god will protect their bigotry, your lies and all y’alls ignorance. Then those collections plates pass around. K’ching!

            You’re welcome. Happy to help.

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