Dear Lacy,

There’s a new attack on LGBT rights in California. We need your help to defeat it.

We’re sponsoring a bill, called the FAIR Education Act (SB 48, authored by Senator Mark Leno), that would ensure that all students learn in school about the contributions LGBT people have made to the history of California and the U.S. The Act would also prohibit discriminatory instruction against LGBT people from being included in the classroom. It will make our classrooms a fairer, safer place for LGBT and all youth.

This week when we were at the bill’s first committee hearing, anti-LGBT activists pulled out all the stops. They organized about 40 opponents of the bill to testify. These opponents argued that we shouldn’t teach about Harvey Milk in our schools because being gay had nothing to do with his success or his assassination. They contended that homosexuality is an abnormal medical condition. And one opponent referred to a transgender member of the community as a “so-called man.” It was beyond shocking.

There’s another committee hearing coming up, followed by a floor vote. Opponents plan to increase their attacks to defeat this bill. It will take everything we’ve got to counter them. 

We have to mobilize a whole host of fair-minded and intelligent people to testify in support of SB 48 at the next hearing. We also have to build upon the support of the California Teachers Association and the many other organizations and individuals who are already behind this bill. We have to help legislators connect with the bill’s goals, reach out through the media and online, and more. Please help us do this important work and advance LGBT rights across California.

Research shows that when students learn about LGBT people and the issues that affect us, the rate of bullying drops by 50 percent. When LGBT youth grow up in safe environments, they become confident and strong, and they are much less likely to succumb to depression or even suicide. SB 48 can save lives, if it passes.

We won this round, but the next and final Senate committee hearing will be within the next couple of weeks. We have to ensure that the bill makes it out of committee. 

In solidarity,

Geoff Kors
Executive Director
Equality California

P.S. I testified in support of SB 48, as did Carolyn Laub of the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, also a sponsor of the bill. Our calls for fairness helped us win this vote, but the next one will be tougher.