WHAT THE BILLS WOULD DO
AB 5, by Assemblymember Rick Zbur, a Santa Monica Democrat, would require teachers to undergo an online, 1-hour training annually on how to support LGBTQ students. The training, which would be provided by the California Department of Education, would include information on clubs and other peer support groups, counseling services, anti-bullying and harassment policies, privacy and other topics. SB 760, proposed by Sen. Josh Newman, a Democrat from Fullerton, would require schools to have at least one gender-neutral bathroom, beginning in 2026. The bill would bring schools in line with California businesses and government offices, which the state has required to provide gender-neutral bathrooms since 2017.
WHO SUPPORTS THEM
Both bills have passed mostly along party lines in the Legislature. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, both major teachers’ unions, Equality California and dozens of other progressive groups support the bills. “AB 5 will provide public school teachers and staff, who are on the front lines of supporting California students, with the training and support they need to better serve LGBTQ+ and all students,” the California Teachers Association wrote. In support of SB 760, Thurmond wrote: “Schools should be a welcoming, safe place for all students — this includes access to bathrooms.”
WHO IS OPPOSED
California Parents Union opposed AB 5, saying that teachers should focus more time on students’ academic success, and that the bill infringes on the authority of local school boards. “Many of our members also believe that each district is different as it serves a unique population of students. Many of our members are concerned that mandated LGBTQ cultural competency training will take time from teachers to collaborate on instruction for academic excellence.” There was no opposition to SB 760.
WHY IT MATTERS
The bills reinforce California’s support for LGBTQ students, at a time when more conservative states are passing laws that limit options and resources for those students. In general, LGBTQ students are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, but positive school climates can help, according to research from the Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth advocacy organization. The group found that LGBTQ students who found their schools to be welcoming and affirming were significantly less likely to attempt suicide. A survey by GLSEN, an LGBTQ youth research nonprofit, found that LGBTQ students who felt safe at school were more likely to attend regularly.
GOVERNOR’S CALL ✅
Newsom announced he signed these and other LGBTQ rights bills on Sept. 23, a day after he vetoed a high-profile bill for gender identity in child custody cases. “California is proud to have some of the most robust laws in the nation when it comes to protecting and supporting our LGBTQ+ community, and we’re committed to the ongoing work to create safer, more inclusive spaces for all Californians,” he said in a statement. “These measures will help protect vulnerable youth, promote acceptance, and create more supportive environments in our schools and communities.”