SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – California public and charter school teachers could soon be required to attend LGBTQ training in order to better support students.
Assembly Bill 493 would require teachers of grades 7-12 to attend the training at least once every two years. Certified employees would also need to undergo training.
The State Department of Education would need to develop the training and school districts or county offices of education would need to provide either an in-service training or an interactive online course. The courses would cover how to support LGBTQ students, including offering peer support groups, creating Safe Spaces, enforcing anti-bullying and harassment policies, providing counseling services, and teaching health and other curricula that are inclusive of, and related to, LGTBQ youth.
In the 2015 National School Climate Survey conducted by the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network found:
- More than 70% of LGBTQ students reported being called names or threatened based on their sexual orientation.
- Nearly 30% of LGBTQ students reported physical harassment or assault based on their gender expression.
- More than 48% of LGBTQ students reported cyberbullying.
- More than 30% of LGBTQ students reported missing school because they felt unsafe.
The survey found students who reported being heavily harassed had lower GPAs, on average, than LGBTQ students who reported being slightly harassed.
AB 493 passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on Friday with a 5-1 vote and goes to the full Senate next. It previously passed the full Assembly with a unanimous 61-0 vote. If it becomes law it would go into effect for the 2021-22 school year.
Prior legislation, AB 2153, would have required schools to provide in-service training to teachers on the school site and would have required schools to make community resources available to LGBTQ students. Governor Jerry Brown vetoed it, writing:
“I signed AB 827 (O’Donnell) in 2015, which required the Department of Education, as part of its compliance monitoring, to assess whether local schools have provided information to certificated staff serving of grades 7-12 on school site and community resources for LGBTQ students. Current law also requires the Department to monitor local schools to ensure the adoptions of policies prohibiting discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or gender expression. If local schools find that more training or resources on this topic is needed, they have the flexibility to use their resources as they see best.”
If AB 493 passes it could cost the General Fund anywhere from hundreds of thousands to low millions of dollars, according to Bill Analysis done by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
A number of groups, including the California State PTA, the California Teachers Association, and the National Survivor Network support the bill. Four groups oppose the bill: California Right to Life Committee, Christian Educators Association International, Family Watch International, and International Federation for Therapeutic and Counseling Choice.