SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Legislation by California State Asssemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) to create safer and more supportive school environments for LGBTQ youth received its final legislative approval today and has been sent to Governor Gavin Newsom. Assembly Bill 493 (AB 493), sponsored by Equality California and State Superintendent for Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, would encourage schools to provide teachers with information on resources available to support LGBTQ students and will require the California Department of Education to develop relevant training programs for teachers.
“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 life because of it. This is an epidemic we must cure, and circumstances we should disrupt,” said Assemblymember Todd Gloria. “AB 493 represents a first step toward that goal with the development of training to help inform and equip teachers with tools to support our LGBTQ young people. More conversations are needed on this issue, and I appreciate the commitment from the Governor and other stakeholders to continue this dialogue over the next year.”
Known as the Safe and Supportive Schools Act, AB 493 encourages training for teachers of grades 7-12, as well as certified school employees, on school site and community resources to support LGBTQ youth. In addition, AB 493 directs the California Department of Education to develop system-wide training on the subject with strategies to increase support for LGBTQ students no later than July 1, 2021.
“California’s teachers are on the front lines of making sure LGBTQ students feel safe and supported and have a shot at success,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. “The bipartisan Safe and Supportive Schools Act is a critical first step toward providing them with the training and support they need to fulfill that mission. Thanks to Assemblymember Gloria and State Superintendent Thurmond’s leadership, that first step is on its way to Governor Newsom for his signature.”
“I’m proud to co-sponsor AB 493, which will help protect California’s LGBTQ students by providing teachers the resources they need to support them at both school and home,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. “Every child deserves a caring and supportive school environment, and we must continue to work towards closing disparities in health, mental health and academic outcomes for our LGBTQ students.”
According to the 2017 National School Climate Survey, 82 percent of LGBTQ students reported hearing anti-LGBTQ remarks 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.
Governor Newsom has until October 13 to sign or veto legislation on his desk.
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