FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 11, 2007
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Assembly Committee Approves Anti-Bias Protections for California Students
Kuehl's SB 777, Sponsored by EQCA, Strengthens State Education Policies to Prevent Bias and Discrimination
SACRAMENTO - The Assembly Education Committee on Wednesday passed the Student Civil Rights Act, which would protect all California students from harassment and bias in public schools based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. SB 777, authored by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, and sponsored by Equality California, was approved by a 7-3 vote.
The Student Civil Rights Act ensures that all students in publicly-funded schools, including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), clearly understand the protections they are provided under state law. SB 777 creates uniform nondiscrimination standards within the state's education code and clarifies the responsibility of school officials to ensure a safe learning environment.
"California youth are coming out at an earlier age in part because of the anti-discrimination laws that we have put in place," said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. "But that means we also have an obligation to make sure all students are adequately protected from harassment and bias, which unfortunately far too many LGBT youth still experience."
Almost one-third of all California youth in grades seven to 11 have been the victims of bullying or harassment based on their actual or perceived race or ethnicity, religion, disability, gender and sexual orientation. The Student Civil Rights Act strengthens existing anti-bias laws to protect students based on these characteristics. SB 777 covers publicly-funded schools and activities, including alternative and charter schools, postsecondary institutions, instructional materials and financial aid programs.
"The Student Civil Rights Act sends a clear message that prejudice will not be tolerated in California's public schools," said Sen. Kuehl. "Young people should not have to live every day with the fear of being a victim of violence or being verbally harassed and ridiculed simply because of who they are. This bill takes a strong stand against discrimination of all kinds."
"EQCA appreciates the support of Assemblymembers Gene Mullin, Julia Brownley, Joe Coto, Mike Eng, Loni Hancock, Betty Karnette and Jose Solorio, who cast an 'aye' vote today to ensure the safety and health of all California youth," said Kors.
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. Please visit our website at eqca.org.
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