A bill requiring California middle schools and high schools to provide teacher training for “the support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) pupils” was amended so that such training is now “encouraged,” but no longer mandated.
When AB 493 was introduced, it demanded annual training for teachers, then it was amended so that training would be every two years. Now, the final bill sent to California Governor Gavin Newsom no longer contains the requirement. However it still calls for the state’s Department of Education to develop training resources and strategies for school districts that want them.
These strategies include options for students such as:
- Peer support or affinity clubs and organizations.
- Safe spaces for LGBTQ pupils.
- Antibullying and harassment policies and related complaint procedures.
- Health and other curriculum materials that are inclusive of, and relevant to, LGBTQ youth.
- Policies relating to use of school facilities, including, but not limited to, bathrooms and locker rooms.
The bill cited a survey by an activist group, the Gay Lesbian Education Network’s (GLSEN) 2017 National School Climate Survey. GLSEN’s report was a non-random online survey of about 23,000 students who chose to participate. According to GLSEN, 22.6 percent of the students were “assigned male” at birth, while 77.4% were “assigned female.”
Dr. Laura Haynes is a California psychologist with more than 40 years of clinical experience. In a recent article, she points out, “The survey actually found that religious schools ranked among the safest for LGBTQ students, with fewer anti-LGBTQ remarks among students than in public schools, and the least victimization and bullying of any schools.” These religious schools don’t have all the “LGBTQ-affirming curricula, clubs, website access, library resources, textbooks, teachers, administrators, or policies” suggested by AB 493, but LGBT-identified students still seem to fare better.
This could be because students and teachers in Jewish or Christian schools have a faith that commands, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39).
Haynes serves on the board of the International Federation for Therapeutic and Counseling Choice, a group that fights government censorship of therapy for those with unwanted homosexual or transgender identities, behaviors or attractions. She writes that such legislation harms people of faith, “These teachers and students will enthusiastically help decrease bullying of LGBTQ students, but they cannot comply with the anti-religious dictates of state-promoted teacher training that pressures them to affirm beliefs about sexuality and gender that contradict their deeply-held religious beliefs.”
She explains that when states and school districts enforce LGBT affirmation, “It will mean compelling students’ and teachers’ speech to promote ideas and to use pronouns that violate their deeply held religious beliefs and First Amendment rights.”
Teachers and students who don’t comply with this agenda are already facing serious consequences, as we’ve seen:
- In Ohio, Philosophy Professor Nicholas Meriwether was mocked and reprimanded by Shawnee State University for failing to use the pronouns demanded by a male student who identifies as female.
- A Florida school district punished a male gym teacher who refused to supervise a girl who believes she’s male in the boy’s locker room.
- High school girl athletes in Connecticut are losing out to boys due to the state’s transgender athletic policies.
- In California, Rachael Olson was forced to undergo training from the group “Queerly Elementary” and testified that “LGBTQ trainings often cast aspersions upon sincerely held religious beliefs of many public school educators.”
Jonathan Keller, President of the Focus-affiliated California Family Council, was encouraged that the state allowed local school districts to decide how to handle bullying, rather than imposing mandatory training. He said, ““Teachers should not be forced to champion the state’s doctrine on gender identity and sexual orientation.
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