Equality California
EQCA-Backed Statewide Audit Will Hold Schools Accountable For Protecting All Students
August 7, 2012

CONTACT: Rebekah Orr, Equality California
PHONE: 415-498-0847 EMAIL: rebekah@eqca.org

EQCA-Backed Statewide Audit Will Hold Schools Accountable For Protecting All Students

(San Francisco) Prompted by recent reports of bullying and harassment against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students, Equality California and the Gay Straight Alliance Network have partnered with Assemblymembers Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Betsy Butler (D-Los Angeles) will ask the Joint Legislative Audit Committee on Wednesday, August 8 to authorize an audit of California school districts and to report on the level of compliance with laws that protect students from discrimination, bullying and harassment.

Between 2003 and 2011, Equality California, together with its partners, successfully sponsored five bills related to school safety for LGBT students: AB 1250 (2003) Bias Prevention Training for Teachers; AB 394 (2007) Safe Place To Learn Act; SB 777 (2007) Student Civil Rights Act; AB 9 (2011) Seth's Law; and SB 48 (2011) Fair Education Act. While all schools are required to implement these laws, reports from students show a patchwork in which some school districts provide ample protection and others ignore or subvert the law. The audit is the first step in identifying non-complying districts and providing a pathway to compliance.

"Students must not be allowed to suffer simply because administrators lack the will or ability to protect them," said Clarissa Filgioun, Equality California board president. "We have the laws we need to make a real impact in reducing bullying and discrimination, but we can't let safety be an empty promise we make students. This audit will let us know how safe our youth really are."

“For over fifteen years, youth leaders in Gay-Straight Alliance clubs across the state have come to Sacramento and successfully urged their legislators to pass life-saving protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth,” said Carolyn Laub, Executive Director of Gay-Straight Alliance Network. “But more often than not, these students return to school only to face more harassment and bullying, with administrators who ignore the law and don't enforce LGBT students’ right to a safe learning environment. We need this state audit in order to deliver on California's hard-won promise to keep students safe.”

According to data from the California Healthy Kids Survey, every year over 200,000 students are harassed because of their sexual orientation, despite the various laws that should promote and protect student safety in schools.
To learn more about Equality California-sponsored legislation, visit, www.eqca.org/legislation.

Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to a state with some of the most comprehensive human rights protections in the nation. Equality California has partnered with legislators to successfully sponsor more than 85 pieces of pro-equality legislation. EQCA continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment.  www.eqca.org

Gay-Straight Alliance Network (GSA Network) is a national youth leadership organization that empowers youth activists to fight homophobia and transphobia in schools by training student leaders and supporting student-led Gay-Straight Alliance clubs throughout the country. In California alone, GSA Network has brought GSA clubs to 56% of public high schools, impacting more than 1.1 million students at 880 schools. GSA Network's youth advocates have played a key role in changing laws and policies that impact youth at the local and state level. GSA Network operates the National Association of GSA Networks, which unites 35 statewide networks of GSA clubs throughout the country. GSA Network is also the founder of the Make It Better Project, which aims to stop bullying and prevent suicide. www.gsanetwork.org