FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 11, 2006
CONTACT: Dannie Tillman, Director of Communications & Coalitions, Equality California
PHONE: (323) 217-8875 EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTACT: Jonathan Snowden, Legislative Aide, Office of Senator Shelia Kuehl
PHONE: (916) 651-4023 EMAIL: email@example.com
SENATE PASSES HISTORIC BIAS-FREE CURRICULUM ACT
Senate Also Greenlights Bill Preventing Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender in State Funded Programs
Sacramento, CA – Today, the Senate passed a bill that would prohibit biased curriculum and require that the contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, like other underrepresented groups, be included in the social science curriculum. The measure was approved by a 22-15 vote and now moves to the Assembly for consideration.
“The invisibility of LGBT people in history materials in schools exacerbates already hostile school climates in which homophobic bullying, harassment and violence are rampant. Studies show that a bias-free and LGBT-inclusive curriculum fosters tolerance, resulting in greater feelings of student safety and less bullying of students who are perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender,” said the bill’s author Senator Shelia Kuehl (D-Santa Monica). “Today’s vote brings us one step closer to our goal of safe schools for all children, and I am very grateful that so many of my colleagues in the California Senate saw the pressing need for this bill.”
“All students deserve to learn history from a fair and balanced perspective,” said Geoffrey Kors, Executive Director of Equality California (EQCA) who sponsored the bill. “SB 1437 also permits teachers to use their discretion and develop age appropriate materials within the social science curriculum.”
According to the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network’s 2005 National School Climate Survey, in the last school year, 64% of LGBT students reported instances of anti-gay verbal harassment and an alarmingly 36% reported physical harassment on the basis of sexual orientation. These circumstances led to nearly two-thirds of LGBT students surveyed to feel unsafe at school, an outcome that manifests itself in the form of increased absenteeism, drop-out, depression and even suicide. According to the California Safe Schools Coalition’s Safe Place to Learn report, California is no exception to this national trend, with more than 200,000 students estimated to experience harassment based on sexual orientation each year.
SB 1441, which passed the Senate by a 23-12 margin, would prevent discrimination in state operated or funded programs on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender. The measure would also include protections for any person associated with a person who has, or is perceived to have, any characteristic covered by the bill. The bill was authored by Senator Kuehl and sponsored by Equality California.
Founded in 1998, Equality California is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to achieve equality and civil rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians. Equality California is one of the largest and fastest growing statewide LGBT organizations in the country. Please visit our website at www.eqca.org.
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