In a significant move to protect LGBTQ+ students and foster inclusivity in education, California Governor Gavin Newsom is poised to sign Assembly Bill 1078, a groundbreaking legislation that will prohibit schools from banning LGBTQ+-inclusive books. The law also mandates schools to have trained staff available to support queer students and reinforces safeguards against forcibly outing LGBTQ+ students to potentially unsupportive parents.
Assembly Bill 1078 stands as a direct challenge to the rising tide of anti-LGBTQ+ book bans and so-called “don’t say gay” laws sweeping the nation. Governor Newsom, a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, is set to put the law into immediate effect upon signing.
In a Twitter announcement, Governor Newsom expressed, “California is the true freedom state: a place where families — not political fanatics — have the freedom to decide what’s right for them. With the passage of legislation to ban book bans & ensure all students have textbooks, our state’s Family Agenda is now even stronger.”
This legislation prevents school boards from refusing to approve or prohibiting the use of books based on individuals’ or groups’ diverse racial or cultural characteristics, and any school found in violation could lose state funding. It aligns with existing state law, which requires social sciences classes to include contributions from diverse groups, including LGBTQ+ Americans and other ethnic and cultural communities.
The law emphatically underscores that restricting access to classroom materials featuring LGBTQ+ content or authors constitutes discrimination and censorship, in violation of California law and policy. It also serves as a reminder to state officials and agencies of their authority to enforce federal and state laws protecting students from discrimination and harassment, ensuring a equitable learning environment.
This reminder is particularly pertinent in light of recent policies in some California school districts, such as the Murrieta Valley, Orange, and Chino Valley Unified School Districts, which aimed to force educators to disclose information about trans and nonbinary students to their parents. California Attorney General Rob Bonta took legal action against the Chino Valley Unified School District, successfully blocking the implementation of its policy.
Furthermore, the legislation encourages schools to offer various forms of support to LGBTQ+ students, including peer support groups, counseling services, and inclusive curriculum materials, emphasizing inclusivity and relevance to these pupils.
Despite pushback from right-wing groups, who claim such policies prevent schools from “secretly” encouraging gender identity changes and oppose “gender ideology” in education, Assembly Bill 1078 underscores California’s commitment to ensuring a safe and inclusive educational environment for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.