March 16, 2023
California Department of Education Making Schools Safer and More Supportive for LGBTQ+ Youth
State Department of Education Partnering with Los Angeles County Office of Education to Develop Online LGBTQ+ Cultural Competency Training Course
SACRAMENTO—Today the California Department of Education (CDE) announced a new partnership with the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) to provide resources to bolster support for LGBTQ+ youth in California.
In 2019, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and the Equality California Institute co-sponsored Assembly Bill (AB) 493, known as the Safe and Supportive Schools Act. This bill, authored by then-Assemblymember Todd Gloria (now the mayor of San Diego), encourages teachers to receive training on school and community resources available to support LGBTQ+ students facing bullying, harassment, discrimination, or lack of acceptance at home or school.
“Many LGBTQ+ students—for too long—have failed to report issues of harassment and violence. This is unacceptable; it is vital we create the same opportunities for a quality public education in an environment that accepts all students for who they are,” said Thurmond. “We are proud to partner with the Los Angeles County Office of Education to lead trainings that will provide our teachers with the critical resources they need to help California’s LGBTQ+ students.”
Since the adoption of AB 493 in 2019, the climate has only worsened for LGBTQ+ students, making these tools for teachers even more crucial. According to the GLSEN 2019 National School Climate Survey (PDF), more than 86 percent of LGBTQ+ students experienced harassment or assault based on personal characteristics (such as sexual orientation, gender expression, perceived religion, actual or perceived race, ethnicity, or disability), and nearly a fifth of LGBTQ+ students reported changing schools due to feeling unsafe or uncomfortable at school. In February 2023, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released results from its 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey , which showed high levels of violence, depression, and suicidal thoughts among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth. According to the findings, more than one in five of these students reported attempting suicide in the year before the survey. At least 52 percent of teenagers who identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or questioning said they struggled with mental health.
In this urgent context, the CDE selected LACOE as the lead contractor to develop online training courses for educators across California. LACOE is collaborating with lead partner agency the Equality California Institute and an advisory committee composed of 20 nonprofit organizations, including the Trevor Project and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, to develop the project called PRISM: Providing Relevant, Inclusive Support that Matters for LGBTQ+ Students.
“If we want students to have a quality education, we must do everything possible to ensure a positive school climate,” said Dr. Debra Duardo, Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools. “LGBTQ+ students face unique challenges, and it’s imperative to implement social and emotional supports that foster healthy development so they can achieve their full potential.”
“California continues to lead the charge in ensuring a positive school climate for all students by launching this first-of-its-kind online training program on LGBTQ+ topics for K–12 educators,” said Equality California Institute Executive Director Tony Hoang. “This is another step forward in California’s support for educators serving and supporting LGBTQ+ youth, and the Equality California Institute is proud to be part of this initiative.”
The training will include topics such as:
- Identifying LGBTQ+ youth who are subject to, or may be at risk of, bullying and lack of acceptance at home or in their communities
- Identifying local, community-based organizations that provide support to LGBTQ+ youth
- Providing information regarding school antibullying and harassment policies and complaint procedures
- Identifying local physical and mental health providers with experience in treating and supporting LGBTQ+ youth and forming peer support or affinity clubs and organizations
An LGBTQ+-inclusive education benefits the health and well-being of all students, and the PRISM project fosters acceptance and promotes a positive school environment for LGBTQ+ students. The PRISM project is expected to be completed in June 2024.
About the Los Angeles County Office of Education
The Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), based in Downey, is the nation’s largest regional education agency and provides a range of services and programs to support the region’s 80 school districts and some two million preschool and school-age children. To learn more about the LACOE, visit the county's home page .
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Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100