SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Assembly Education Committee voted 5-0 today to pass the Safe and Supportive Schools Act of 2019 (AB 493), legislation that would provide California public schools will provide California public schools with resources to give teachers and staff the tools and training they need to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) students. Committee Vice Chair Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) did not cast a vote. AB 493 is authored by Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) and co-sponsored by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization.
“Despite an overwhelming amount of harassment, many LGBTQ students do not report their troubles to school staff because they question whether or not effective intervention will occur,” said Assemblymember Gloria. “All students should feel safe, accepted, included, and supported in their school. This is why it is critical that teachers and staff are equipped with the training and tools they need to support our LGBT youth.”
“When children don’t feel safe and supported in school, they can’t learn,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur following the bill’s passage. “Our public school teachers and staff have dedicated their lives to helping students succeed; we need to be giving them adequate training and support to do so. The Safe and Supportive Schools Act will do just that, and we’re grateful to the Assembly Education Committee for recognizing that.”
AB 493 will create safer and more supportive learning environments for LGBTQ students by requiring schools to provide teachers and staff with professional development and information on resources available to LGBTQ students, so educators know how best to support students facing bullying or harassment at school, lack of acceptance at home or discrimination in the broader community. The bill is co-authored by members of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, of which Gloria is the Vice Chair, and supported by a number of education and civil rights organizations, including the California Federation of Teachers and the California State PTA.
“This bill will make our schools safer and more inclusive for all students. Because when LGBTQ students feel safe and supported, their friends and classmates benefit, too,” testified Equality California Legislative Manager Tami Martin during Wednesday’s hearing.
According to the Human Rights Campaign and University of Connecticut’s recently released California LGBTQ Youth Report, half of California’s LGBTQ youth have been teased or bullied for their sexual orientation or gender identity and 28 percent said they have been threatened with physical violence at school. Research also consistently shows that students who are the targets of bullying, harassment and discrimination are more likely to miss school, see their academic performance suffer or even drop out of school as a result. LGBTQ youth face additional disparities in health and well-being, including higher rates of homelessness, suicide and substance use and lower rates of economic success than their non-LGBTQ peers.
Superintendent Thurmond and Equality California passed similar legislation (AB 2153) in 2018 with bipartisan support in both the Assembly and Senate, but the bill was vetoed by then-Governor Jerry Brown.
For a complete list of Equality California’s 2019 sponsored pro-equality legislation, visit eqca.org/legislation.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.eqca.org