Resolved: The Student Nondiscrimination Act of 2010 ought to be enacted.
Debate Rounds (3)
The debate will be as follows:
Pro: Introduces contentions
Con: Negates Pro and introduces own contentions
Pro: Refutes Con and defends own contentions
Con: Refutes Pro and defends own contentions
Both sides: Impact analysis- why did Pro/Con win this debate? New new contentions/evidence should be introduced in this round. Responding to a question or clarification from the previous round is okay.
========== BACKGROUND ==========
The Student Nondiscrimination Act of 2010 (I will refer to it as the SNDA) throughout this debate) is a bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) in the House of Representatives and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn) in the Senate.
The intent of the SNDA is "To end discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in public schools, and for other purposes." The full text of the bill can be found here: http://thomas.loc.gov...:
========== MY CASE ==========
---------- Contention 1: The SNDA Is a Necessary Counterpart To the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ----------
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination by public schools on the basis of race, gender, religion and ethnicity. It is time that these provisions extend to sexual orientation and gender identification.
Growing evidence indicates that sexual orientation and gender identification are not influenced by social criteria as much as it is hardwired into the subject (1). Because of this, for the most part, one's sexual preference is as innate as one's ethnicity. Furthermore, religion is clearly more of a conscious choice than homosexuality, yet the former remains protected under the Civil Rights Act.
Therefore, sexual orientation and gender identification remain as much a civil right as race, gender, religion and ethnicity. ANY harassment on such a basis that a student may face while trying to get an education should not be tolderated (2). It is time for the federal government to acknowledge and protect this basic civil right.
---------- Contention 2: Lack Of Negative Effects Resulting From the Passage of the SNDA ----------
This may be a defensive argument, but I am presenting it anyway in an attempt to initiate early clash in this debate.
I challenge my opponent, whomever he or she may be, to point out any harms that would occur if the SNDA were passed. Hypothetically, even if sexual preference or gender identification is a conscious choice and not a protected civil right, what negative effects would the bill produce? No student would be receiving priority over another. The majority's rights would not be transcended by the minority. The rights of the minority would simply be raised to the level of the majority.
Furthermore, the SNDA does not entail "indoctrination" of any kind. No one will be forced to befriend homosexual students or even express any welcoming of homosexuality. The SNDA simply guarantees that homosexual and transgender students fulfill their legal education requirements free from physical or psychological abuse on the basis of their sexualities.
The resolution is therefore affirmed. The Student Nondiscrimination Act of 2010 ought to be enacted. I look forward to my opponent's response.
I'd like to thank my opponent for initiating what I expect to be an enlightening debate.
Before getting started, it is important to note that I do not condone the bullying or harassment of a student regardless of the motivating factors. Schools should foster an atmosphere conducive to learning. Schools should not be environments where students are threatened or intimidated.
I agree to my opponent's format for this debate, and I shall adopt a similar heading structure as my opponent for ease of reading.
There are several reasons why this bill should not be enacted, but for the sake of making this a more targeted debate, I will limit my contentions to three:
---Contention 1: SDNA Potentially Limits Free Speech---
According to SNDA, "the term ‘harassment' means conduct that is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive to limit a student's ability to participate in or benefit from a public school education program or activity…" 
SDNA fails to explicitly define harassment. Potentially a student who voices his opposition to the gay lifestyle can be held in violation of this law if another student "feels" harassed as a result. Even one of the bills primary sponsors, Sen. Al Franken (D-Min), has difficulty in explaining harassment. When asked what specifically constitutes harassment under the bill, the Senator's response was, "Uh, I think that harassment and bullying is really, uh, it's one of these things that you know it when you see it." 
---Contention 2: SDNA Takes Power Away From State and Local Communities---
Homosexuality is an extremely controversial subject. Many different communities view homosexuality differently and should be allowed to address conflicts in a manner which best meets the needs of their community.
Most if not all schools and school boards have policies which address bullying and harassment in schools. It is more appropriate for these issues to be dealt with at the state and local level, rather than attempting to mandate a Federal one-size-fits-all policy.
---Contention 3: There is No Constitutional Right to Homosexual Behavior or Cross-dressing---
Civil rights and homosexual rights are not synonymous. Civil rights focus on the right to vote, the guaranteed access to public accommodations, and desegregation of pubic facilities and schools. They have never been, nor should they ever be, about attempting to have the federal government mandate acceptance of a particular lifestyle.
If we should allow a special law addressing harassment of homosexual behavior, should we not also address harassment of: overweight kids, kids with bad acne, or kids with nose rings?
We should seek to protect ALL students from bullying and harassment rather then specifically identifying a special class. This protection is more effectively accomplished by state and local institutions and individuals who are more intimately knowledgeable about the needs of their communities. This protection should occur while also protecting the right to hold differing views and the right to express those views.
I will now refute my opponent's case before defending my own.
========== OPPONENT'S CASE ==========
---------- C1: Free Speech ----------
My opponent makes the claim that the SNDA will hinder a student's right to voice his opposition to homosexuality, which is a violation of free speech. I have two arguments against this.
First, the SNDA is not concerned with discriminatory acts by fellow students. The text of the bill explicitly refers to cases "when school officials engage in discriminatory treatment or are indifferent to discrimination, including harassment, bullying, intimidation and violence, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity." In other words, LGBT students have the same access to school activities and a safe learning environment as their heterosexual peers. If Billy, who is gay, is harassed by Joey, who is not, then that is a disciplinary matter for the school itself. However, if Joey repeatedly harasses Billy, and the administration condones Joey or refuses to take action, then that can open the doors to a federal lawsuit.
Secondly, free speech is not absolute. Verbal harassment against individual students is not protected by the First Amendment. Legally, harassment is defined as "a course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress in such a person and serves no legitimate purpose" (1). Under the SNDA, Joey will not be allowed to yell "Billy is a f*g" in the school hallway for the same reason that he cannot yell racial slurs at African-American students.
---------- C2: State and Local Community Values ----------
The first part of this argument is really a personal opinion. The fact that different communities view homosexuality differently is not sufficient grounds to deny any student the right to be homosexual. Furthermore, the SNDA does not dictate in what manner communities must address cases of discrimination or harassment. The bill just says action must be taken to stop such cases. If discrimination or harassment is ignored or even encouraged, THEN such issues must be dealt with on a federal level, because the community has neglected to protect the rights of its citizens.
No one can be mandated to like or support a particular lifestyle, but governments (including public schools) must tolerate the rights of people to practice such a lifestyle. Students have the right to lead whatever lifestyle they want, and such a lifestyle is only subject to restriction if it "materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others" (2).
---------- C3: Civil Rights vs. Homosexual Rights -----------
I will go through this contention point-by-point:
"Civil rights and homosexual rights are not synonymous. Civil rights focus on the right to vote, the GUARANTEED ACCESS TO PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS (emphasis mine), and desegregation of pubic facilities and schools."
That is exactly what the SNDA is protecting: the guaranteed access to equal accommodations in public schools for LGBT students.
"They have never been, nor should they ever be, about attempting to have the federal government mandate acceptance of a particular lifestyle."
The bill does not mandate the acceptance by private individuals, but rather legal acceptance, in this case by public school systems.
"If we should allow a special law addressing harassment of homosexual behavior, should we not also address harassment of: overweight kids, kids with bad acne, or kids with nose rings?"
The SNDA was introduced as a response to cases of LGBT harassment in public schools (3). If there are widespread cases of harassment because of the reasons my opponent listed, those should be dealt with as well. Surely my opponent does not condone school faculty harassing or discriminating against overweight students, students with acne, or students with piercings!
========== MY CASE ==========
My opponent never directly addressed my contentions, but I will still address any points he brought up that clash with mine.
---------- C1: The SNDA Is a Necessary Counterpart To the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ----------
My opponent argued in the previous round that there is no constitutional right to homosexuality or cross dressing. Although he never elaborated (he just compared civil rights to the right to be homosexual), history shows that the Supreme Court has struck down laws restricting or prohibiting homosexual expression (4). Therefore, it has been ruled that homosexuality is a constitutionally-protected right. This is mainly because of the Constitution's mandate of the right to privacy and equal protection under the law.
My opponent never objected to my evidence that homosexuality can be biologically innate. Any claims that homosexuality is a "lifestyle choice" should be disregarded, as he never provided any supporting evidence.
---------- C2: Lack of Negative Effects Resulting From the Passage of the SNDA ----------
My opponent gave only two possible negative consequences resulting from the SNDA, both of which have been shown to have no merit. All claims my opponent made that the SNDA violates the First Amendment have been refuted, as the SNDA makes no restrictions on the rights of students to express opposition to homosexuality. Also, I have shown that the Supreme Court declared that the rights of homosexuals outweigh whatever views a community may have against them.
========== CONCLUSION ==========
My contention showing that homosexuality is hardwired into one's DNA has not been addressed by my opponent, so I assume he agrees. All negative effects that my opponent speculates may result from the SNDA are baseless. Therefore the resolution is affirmed. I look forward to my opponent's response.
Due to personal issues, I regret to inform you that I am unable to continue with this debate.
Wayfarer forfeited this round.
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