SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California’s LGBTQ students are one step closer to having safer and more supportive learning environments at school. Today, the California Assembly passed legislation authored by California Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) and co-sponsored by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and Equality California that would require teachers and educational staff receive training on school site and community resources available to support LGBTQ students. Assembly Bill 493 (AB 493), known as the Safe and Supportive Schools Act of 2019, passed the Assembly with bipartisan support and now advances to the Senate.
“The bullying and harassment I experienced in school as an LGBTQ student still happens in astonishing numbers to today’s LGBTQ youth. Teachers and staff are on the front lines. Training them to know the signs and how they can be more supportive of LGBTQ students can make all the difference,” said Assemblymember Todd Gloria, vice-chair of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus. “Our schools should be safe and inclusive places focused on the growth and success of all students. AB 493 better equips and empowers educators to create these kinds of positive learning environments.”
AB 493 would require online training every two years for teachers of grades seven through 12 and all other certified employees of the school. The training would include information about school site and community resources available to support LGBTQ students as well as strategies to increase overall support teachers can provide LGBTQ students. This will help ensure educators know how to best support LGBTQ students facing bullying, harassment, discrimination, and/or lack of acceptance at home or school.
“In my role as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, I want to ensure that we provide students with safe and productive learning environments. I want to prioritize curriculum and school environments that teach tolerance, acceptance, and promote diversity,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. “AB 493 will provide California schools with the resources to support our LGBTQ students so that they have the same opportunities for a quality public education in an environment that supports them for who they are.”
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.
“Every student — regardless of their background, zip code, sexual orientation or gender identity — deserves a safe and supportive learning environment,” said Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California. “Today’s vote put us one step closer to equipping California’s teachers and school staff with the training they need — and want — to support their LGBTQ students. We are grateful for the leadership of Assemblymember Gloria and State Superintendent Thurmond as this critical bill moves forward.”
AB 493 is co-authored by the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. If signed into law, the bill would go into effect January 1, 2020.
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