SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A proposal to require all public and charter school teachers statewide to attend LGBTQ training every other year underwent a major overhaul in the Senate and now would no longer be a requirement.
Instead, if Assembly Bill 493 becomes law, the California Department of Education would need to develop or update resources for in-service training to help teachers in grades 7-12 better understand how to support LGBTQ students. Some of the topics that would be covered include:
- Offering peer support groups
- Creating Safe Spaces
- Enforcing anti-bullying and harassment policies
- Providing counseling services
- Teaching health and other curricula that are inclusive of, and related to, LGTBQ youth.
The resources would need to be available by July 1, 2021. The Department of Education would also need to periodically offer online training on the topic. School districts and charter schools would be encouraged, not required, to provide the training.
The original version of Assembly Bill 493 would have required teachers of grades 7-12 to attend the training, offered as an in-service or online, at least once every two years. Certified employees would also have needed to undergo training.
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.
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.”
AB 493 did pass the Senate Tuesday and now goes back to the Assembly for a final vote. If it passes it will go to Governor Newsom’s desk to sign or veto.