California Governor Vetoes Anti-Bullying Law
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California Governor Schwarzenegger has rejected a non-discrimination bill that would have strengthened existing state law prohibiting anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) discrimination and harassment in public schools.
The Safe Place to Learn Act (AB 606), authored by Assemblymember Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys) and sponsored by Equality California (EQCA), would have provided guidance and direction to school districts in preventing harassment based on a variety of characteristics, including actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Some California schools are choosing to ignore the current law prohibiting discrimination and harassment of LGBT students and to veto a bill that would help enforce that law is shameful,” said Geoff Kors, EQCA executive director. “The governor is ignoring the needs of students who are teased and bullied because they are or are perceived to be LGBT. The governor claims to have spent most of his life fighting discrimination and teaching children about tolerance, yet he has vetoed every bill he has seen that would do just that.”
Assembly Bill 606 would have created a model anti-discrimination and harassment policy for school districts to adopt and publicize; provided that schools, during the normal course of reprinting, update all applicable publications on school safety to include information on bias-related discrimination and harassment; and ensured that schools document all complaints brought forward by students.
“I’m extremely disheartened by the governor’s veto of this important measure. His claim that current law already protects California’s kids is just plain wrong,” said Assemblymember Levine. “The facts are that LGBT students are more likely than their peers to use drugs or to be victimized by violence, more than twice as likely to seriously consider suicide, and over three times more likely to carry a weapon to school or stay home because they feel unsafe. By declining to sign AB 606, the governor has let these students down.”
A survey conducted by the California Safe Schools Coalition found that students who are harassed based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity are more than three times as likely to report missing at least one day of school in the last 30 days due to feeling unsafe; are twice as likely to report depression and seriously consider suicide; and are more likely to have low grades, be victims of violence or use illegal substances.
For additional information on EQCA, visit www.eqca.org.
EQCA press release.
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