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.
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.
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.