California’s Assembly Bill 493 will help make safe schools for LGBTQ youth

Assembly Bill 493

A person watching the LA Pride Parade along Santa Monica Boulevard in Wet Hollywood on June 10, 2018, waves a California flag with the added Pride colors. Photo: Jon Viscott/City of West Hollywood.

The California Department of Education must develop a training program for middle and high school teachers that will help create safer and more supportive school environments for LGBTQ youth, according to legislation signed by the governor. 

Assembly Bill 493

Specifically, Assembly Bill 493, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Saturday, requires the state education department to hire a PhD-level coordinator to develop LGBTQ-relevant training and resources for the public school teachers and certificated employees, such as nurses, librarians, and counselors, by July 1, 2021.

The training is to ensure teachers and certified employees are better prepared and equipped to intervene and assist LGBTQ students against verbal and/or physical harassment, which could impact their school performance and attendance.

Cyndi Lauper wants you to help end LGBTQ youth homelessness

Safe, supportive schools

AB 493, also known as the Safe and Supportive Schools Act of 2019,  also encourages school districts to provide available training and resources that will support LGBTQ youth.

“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 Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), the bill’s author.

Bullying data

According to GLSEN’s 2017 National School Climate Survey:

  • 7 in 10 LGBTQ students reported hearing anti-LGBTQ remarks often or frequently in their school
  • 82% of students were called names or threatened due to their sexual orientation
  • More than ⅓ one-third of students who identify as LGBTQ reported missing at least one day of school because they felt  unsafe

Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, one of the bill’s sponsors, said AB 493 is the “start of 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.”

A previous version of AB 493 would have required school districts to provide teachers and school staff with training and resources to help LGBTQ students. The bill, however; was amended and the requirement was removed due to budget constraints.

Equality California, Gloria, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond plan to push legislation in 2020 that will require and fund such training.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

Share This

Share this post with your friends!