EQCA
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Measure to Protect LGBT Foster Youth Passes First Committee

2008 Press Releases

Measure to Protect LGBT Foster Youth Passes First Committee

Brownley Bill, Co-sponsored by EQCA, NASW-CA and GSA Network, Introduced in Response to Oxnard School Shooting; Legislation Calls for Training Programs in Foster Care System to Prevent Bias at School.

SACRAMENTO – Assembly lawmakers yesterday passed a bill that would help protect foster youth against harassment and discrimination at school. Assembly Bill 3015, introduced in response to a school shooting in Oxnard two months ago, would educate foster care youth, and their caregivers, about existing California laws that protect students against bias.

The Assembly Human Services Committee passed AB 3015 on Tuesday with a 4-1 vote. The bill is authored by Assemblymember Julia Brownley, D-Woodland Hills, and co-sponsored by Equality California, the National Association of Social Workers (California Chapter) and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network.

In February, 15-year-old Lawrence “Larry” King was shot in the head by another classmate at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard. Larry, who had recently begun to identify as gay, was the target of bullying and ridicule by some of his classmates, including the alleged shooter. The victim was in the foster care system and lived in a group home for abused and neglected children.

“Every day, young people are bullied and harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, which in part leads to higher rates of depression, school dropout and suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth,” said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. “In Oxnard, this escalated into a tragic hate crime that ruined the lives of not just one, but two youth. This bill will help ensure that foster youth, like Larry, have caring adults in their lives who will take the time to explain their rights to safety and dignity at school."

AB 3015 requires that existing training programs for foster youth and their caregivers include information about existing school safety laws that protect students from discrimination. EQCA was the sponsor of several bills which have become law that protect public school students from bias based on many factors, including sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

“The death of a child is a profound loss. Let us remember Larry as a young man who believed it was his protected right to pursue and to discover his own identity,” said Assemblymember Julia Brownley. “It is my deep, sincere hope that AB 3015 serves as a step to providing our young people with a safe, protective environment in which to grow and thrive.”

“Social workers are the first line of defense in ensuring that foster youth are safe in all their environments, including school,” said NASW-CA Executive Director Janlee Wong. “AB 3015 ensures that social workers, foster parents, relative caregivers, group homes and, most importantly, foster youth are informed of the protections foster youth are entitled to on their school campuses and how to report and prevent harassment and violence at school.”

"Foster youth and their caregivers need to know that they have the right to attend a safe school where youth won't be harassed or bullied based on their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression," said GSA Network Executive Director Carolyn Laub. "GSA Network is proud to co-sponsor AB 3015, which will help stop violence and harassment directed toward LGBT foster youth in their school setting."

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