FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 6, 2006
CONTACT: Dannie Tillman, Director of Communications & Coalitions, Equality California
PHONE: (323) 217-8875 EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTACT: Tam Ma, Legislative Consultant, Office of Senator Shelia Kuehl
PHONE: (916) 651-4023 EMAIL: email@example.com
EQUALITY CALIFORNIA CRITICIZES GOVERNOR'S VETO OF BIAS-FREE CURRICULUM ACT
Sacramento, CA – Earlier today, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed Senate Bill 1437, the Bias-Free Curriculum Act, authored by Senator Shelia Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) and sponsored by Equality California (EQCA). A simple nondiscrimination measure, SB 1437 would have extended existing laws prohibiting discrimination on the bases of race, sex, disability, nationality, and religion in textbooks, instructional materials, and school sponsored activities to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
On May 24, 2006, Governor Schwarzenegger announced he would veto an earlier version of the bill that would have required inclusion of the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in history and social science curriculum.
“Yet again, this governor has shown that he will play politics with our lives when a few extremists yell loud enough,” said Geoff Kors, EQCA’s executive director. “The governor’s veto message states that the underlying laws the bill amends are too vague. Such reasoning is completely nonsensical. The truth remains that the governor vetoed adding LGBT people to an existing law protecting every other group but us.”
“Since we amended the bill simply to bar discrimination in official teaching materials, I an extremely disappointed that the governor chose to respond to a small, shrill group of right-wing extremists rather than a fair-minded majority of Californians who support this reasonable measure. This piece of legislation would have only modestly expanded existing statutes to bring us one step closer to the goal of safe schools for all children,” said Senator Kuehl. “Schools continue to be a hostile place for LGBT students, and they deserve the same protections against discrimination at school events and in textbooks that other groups of students currently enjoy. SB 1437 gives them this equal protection.”
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, dropout, depression and even suicide.
According to the California Safe Schools Coalition’s Safe Place to Learn report published in January 2004, California is no exception to this national trend, with more than 200,000 students estimated to experience harassment based on sexual orientation each year.
Equality California is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to achieve equality and civil rights for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians. Please visit our website at www.eqca.org.
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