FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 29, 2006
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CONTACT: Robin Podolsky, Press Secretary, Office of Senator Shelia Kuehl
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LEGISLATURE PASSES SENATOR KUEHL’S BIAS-FREE CURRICULUM ACT
Bill Sponsor, Equality California, Calls On Governor to Sign Bill
Sacramento, CA – Today, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 1437, the Bias-Free Curriculum Act, authored by Senator Shelia Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) and sponsored by Equality California (EQCA). The measure would extend 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.
“I’m very pleased that both houses of the Legislature have passed SB 1437, as amended,” said Senator Kuehl. “We’ve heard from so many young people that their schools continue to be dangerous or unsafe. The time to act on that issue is now, and prohibiting school books or activities that degrade our kids and our community is an important piece of the puzzle in creating a safer school environment.”
“We must not forget that negative and hateful messages about LGBT people are still plaguing our schools," said Geoff Kors, EQCA's executive director. "We have an opportunity to get a bill signed that would yet again reinforce the notion that we don’t stand for discrimination in California.”
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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