SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The State of California furthered its commitment to protecting LGBTQ young people today as California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Safe and Supportive Schools Act of 2019 (AB 493) authored by Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) and co-sponsored by Equality California and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. The legislation creates safer and more supportive school environments for LGBTQ youth by encouraging school districts to provide teachers with information on resources available to support LGBTQ students and requires the California Department of Education to develop relevant training programs for teachers no later than July 1, 2021.
“Today, Governor Newsom sent a loud and clear message to LGBTQ students across California that we have their backs,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. “The Safe and Supportive Schools Act will not only start a multi-year process to ensure that teachers and school staff have the tools and training they need to support our students, but it will put California on a path to serving as the gold standard for school climate. On behalf of the entire LGBTQ community, we are so grateful to Assemblymember Gloria and State Superintendent Thurmond for championing California values and fighting to help make our schools safe and supportive for every single student.”
According to GLSEN’s 2017 National School Climate Survey, 82 percent of LGBTQ students reported hearing anti-LGBTQ remarks often or frequently in their school; approximately 7 in 10 reported being called names or threatened because of their sexual orientation; and more than one-third of students who identify as LGBTQ reported missing at least one day of school because of feeling unsafe.
“All too often, LGBTQ youth are bullied or harassed at school and do not feel like they have a place to turn. Some have chosen to end their own life because of it. This is an epidemic we must cure, and circumstances we should disrupt,” said Assemblymember Gloria. “The Governor’s signature on AB 493 represents a first step toward that goal. This is an important first step to improving the school environments for these vulnerable youth, and I look forward to working with the Governor and other stakeholders to build on this effort.”
A previous version of AB 493 would have required school districts to provide teachers and school staff with training and resources to better support LGBTQ students. The bill was amended to remove the requirement due to budget constraints, but Equality California will continue working with Assemblymember Gloria and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Thurmond to pass legislation requiring such training in 2020.
“I thank Governor Newsom and Assemblymember Gloria for their leadership in passing and signing AB 493, of which I’m a proud co-sponsor,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Thurmond. “LGBTQ students must have the same opportunities for a quality public education in an environment that accepts them for who they are. AB 493 will help California’s LGBTQ students by providing teachers the resources they need to support them, and closes disparities in health, mental health and academic outcomes.”
In addition to Equality California and Thurmond, AB 493 was backed by the California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teachers, California State PTA and San Diego Unified School District, among others.
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