Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Friday applauded an announcement from the White House that President Barack Obama has endorsed the Student Non-Discrimination Act (House Resolution 998) and the Safe Schools Improvement Act (House Resolution 1648), bipartisan legislation introduced in Congress to address school bullying and safeguard vulnerable students. Capps is a co-sponsor of both bills.

“I was very pleased to learn that President Obama supports both the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act. These bills are tremendously important and will make our schools safer for all students.

“For students who are, or are perceived to be, LGBT, going to school can induce fear and anxiety because of bullying, hostility or a generally unsupportive environment. This isn’t what the experience of going to school should be for any of our children.

“On the Central Coast, we know all too well that when schools are not the safe places they are supposed to be, the safety and well-being of LGBT students are put at risk. The death of Larry King in Oxnard and other tragedies around the country are a reminder that hostility, violence and harassment directed at LGBT youth must be stopped.

“I’m hopeful the president’s support for these two bills today will send a message to the leadership in Congress that it’s time to bring these bills to the floor for a vote.”

The Student Non-Discrimination Act, sponsored by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., would prohibit discrimination in public schools against any student on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Safe Schools Improvement Act, sponsored by Sen. Bob Casey, D-Penn., and Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., would require school districts to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment, including on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion.

Capps is a vocal, longtime supporter of equality for all Americans, including gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. She supports repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and is an original co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal provisions in DOMA that prevent same-sex couples who are married under state laws from receiving federal benefits.

Capps was also a leader on the issue of repealing the military’s discriminatory “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. As vice chairwoman of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, she supports full equality for LGBT Americans in essential civil rights areas, including but not limited to employment and housing discrimination, immigration status, federal benefits for families and creating safe schools for LGBT youth.

— Ashley Schapitl is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.