The California Assembly approved a bill last week requiring junior high and high school public school teachers to receive training on how to support and affirm the LGBTQ identities of their students. AB 493 also requires teachers to refer these students to supportive LGBTQ activist organizations, provide them with LGBTQ peer groups, and create school-wide programs urging the student body to support the LGBTQ identities of students.
The legislation passed overwhelmingly, 61 to 0, with almost all the Republicans deciding not to vote. Every Democrat voted yes, along with Republican Assembly members Chad Mayes, Phillip Chen, Jordan Cunningham, Tom Lackey, and Tyler Diep.
This mandated training will put Christian public school teachers in the position of promoting and approving beliefs that clash with their biblical values. This conflict is already happening. According to information the California Family Council recently received from concerned Christian elementary school teachers, LGBTQ teacher training is already being used to shame teachers into promoting gender and sexual orientation beliefs they disagree with.
According to the bill’s author, Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), California needs AB 493 to address the high rates of harassment reported by LGBTQ identifying students. According to the bill, the National School Climate Survey reports that “over 70 percent of LGBTQ pupils nationwide reported being called names or threatened based on their sexual orientation.” Many still report “physical harassment,” “cyberbullying,” or feeling “uncomfortable” and “unsafe” at school.
California Family Council President Jonathan Keller acknowledges the legitimacy of these concerns, but he disagrees with Gloria’s solution.
“Every person is created in the image of God and should be treated with dignity and respect,” Keller said. “This includes those who identify as LGBTQ as well as those with sincerely held religious beliefs. AB 493 would unconstitutionally force every teacher and student to reject biological reality about sexuality and gender, and instead mandate the views of LGBT political activists as the only acceptable opinion. Sadly, Mr. Gloria is attempting to fight bullying by becoming a bully himself.”
AB 493 will not let teachers passively attend LGBT training, but requires “sustained input and participation of the trainee,” as well as testing. The bill does not detail the topics to be covered, but the California Family Council recently received specific content included in LGBT training already being used in different parts of the state. Two California Christian first grade teachers provided information on the LGBT sensitivity training they received this year from their school districts. (The teachers’ names are withheld at their request)
One school teacher from a school district just north of San Diego described how the LGBT training she received last January ridiculed her Christian upbringing and forced teachers to raise their hands to expose their beliefs on gender in order to shame them.
“Many times we were asked harsh questions and asked to raise our hands,” the first-grade teacher explained. Questions included, “Were you raised to only believe there are two genders? Did your parents ever discuss choices to you of gender?”
Teachers who admitted their parents had a binary/biblical view of gender were told how wrong and backward those views were. “I was truly offended knowing my parents raised me in a solid Christian home,” the teacher wrote. “I know my parents were outstanding parents. I was also blessed to attend a wonderful church.”
Teachers also received instructions on keeping secrets from parents. “It was shared with us that when a child tells us they are transgender, gay, or want to be the opposite sex we are not allowed to share it with their parents,” the teacher explained. The preferred name and pronoun of the student should be used, but “it should be kept private until the child is ready to share it with the parents.”
This southern California LGBTQ training was presented by LGBTQIA Education and Advocacy with the San Diego Unified School District. Handouts from the event covered the “gender spectrum,” and ways to help little children transition away from their “sex assigned at birth” to their “affirmed gender.” The materials also recommended elementary books on homosexuality, like “Heather has Two Mommies,” and “A Tale of Two Daddies,” as well as books about transgenderism like, “I am Jazz,” and cross-dressing like, “Jacob’s New Dress.” (find other SDUSD LGBTQIA handouts given to teachers here, and here.)
Another first-grade teacher working in the Moraga School District just east of Oakland had to sit through LGBT training last month with presenter Olivia Higgins with Queerly Elementary. According to the organization’s website, “Queerly Elementary provides services and resources to help school communities embrace lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer diversity.” (For more information check out the Queerly Elementary Facebook page.)
The training flier Higgins handed out to Moraga teachers, titled “Creating a Gender Supportive School,” recommends the following:
- Use the preferred pronoun and name of the student or risk violating discrimination and harassment policies.
- Reduce or eliminate the practice of segregating into boy/girl groups or referencing students by gender; this includes P.E./ sports.
- Take the student’s lead in creating a transition plan if the child wants to change genders. Include the family “when possible.”
- Eliminate gender-specific dress codes and practices.
- All students should have access to restrooms and lockers based on their gender identity.
Call to Action
AB 493 now heads to the Senate Education Committee with a hearing anticipated later this month, although the date has not been set yet.
Please call and send letters of opposition to your member of the Senate and to the members of the Senate Education Committee (phone numbers listed below)
Senator Connie M. Leyva (Chair) (San Bernardino – D)
- Capitol Office (916) 651-4020
- District Office: San Bernardino – (909) 888-5360; Chino – (909) 591-7016
Senator Scott Wilk (Vice Chair) (R – Lancaster)
- Capitol Office (916) 651-4021
- District Offices: Lancaster – (661) 729-6232; Santa Clarita – (661) 286-1471; Victorville – (760) 843-8414
Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D – Los Angeles)
- Capitol Office: (916) 651-4024
- District Office: Los Angeles (213) 483-9300
Senator Steven M. Glazer (D – Antioch)
- Capitol Office: (916) 651-4007
- District Offices: Orinda – (925) 258-1176; Antioch – (925) 754-1461
Senator Mike McGuire (D -San Rafael)
- Capitol Office: (916) 651-4002
- District Offices: San Rafael – (415) 479-6612; Santa Rosa – (707) 576-2771
Senator Richard Pan (D)
- Capitol Office: (916) 651-4006
- District Office: Sacramento – (916) 651-1529