Dems unveil bill targeting LGBT harassment on college campuses
© Greg Nash

Three Democratic lawmakers on Thursday introduced a measure that would require colleges and universities to establish policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. 

The bill, dubbed the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, comes two months after the Trump administration reversed Obama-era guidelines aimed at protecting transgender students from discrimination at schools and colleges. 

The legislation was named for Clementi, a Rutgers University student who committed suicide in 2010 after being harassed over his sexual orientation. 

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Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: Senate panel to hold hearing on US coronavirus response | Dems demand Trump withdraw religious provider rule | Trump Medicaid proposal sparks bipartisan backlash Democratic senators urge Trump administration to request emergency funding for coronavirus response Democrats demand Trump administration withdraw religious provider rule MORE (D-Wash.), who is heading up the effort in the Senate alongside Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinOvernight Health Care: Appeals court strikes down Medicaid work requirements | Pelosi's staff huddles with aides on surprise billing | Senate Dems pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit Senate Democrats pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit Democratic senators press Amazon over injury rates MORE (D-Wis.), slammed President Trump for withdrawing the Title IX guidelines, saying that the measure takes aim at the "bullying" his administration has enabled.

"I made a promise to families like Tyler's, to keep fighting to protect our students, and I’m going to keep fighting for policies like this no matter how hard President Trump pushes us the other way,” Murray said in a statement. 

The legislation would also create a federal grant program to provide funding for anti-harassment efforts at colleges and universities. Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanDemocrats call on Pompeo to restore funding to Gaza USDA takes heat as Democrats seek probe into trade aid 2020 Democratic hopefuls focus on Iowa while making final pitches MORE (D-Wis.) is introducing the same measure in the House.

“Bullying is a real and persistent danger for many LGBTQ students at our colleges and universities, but there is no federal legislation that specifically protects students from being targeted based on sexual orientation or gender identity," Pocan said.

It's not the bill's first run in Congress. Murray introduced the measure before in 2014, and former Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) proposed a similar bill in 2010.

In addition to the measure's proposed prohibition on gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination, it also takes aim at harassment based on race, religion, color, national origin, sex, and disability.

The Obama administration issued federal guidance last year stating that Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments protected students from discrimination based on gender identity, rather than just gender alone. It also ensured students access to the restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity. 

The Trump administration issued new guidelines in February withdrawing the Obama-era guidelines, arguing that issue was best handled at the state level.

But Democrats and civil rights leaders have largely rejected the new guidelines. They say they fail to ensure students have equal access to anti-discrimination policies.