March 30, 2011 (Sacramento)--Assemblymember Marty Block (AD-78) announced today that the Assembly Committee on Higher Education, which he chairs, has approved his bill to improve the campus climates for LGBT students at public colleges and universities. AB 620 would require the California State University and California Community Colleges, and request the University of California, to adopt policies on harassment, intimidation and bullying in their student codes of conduct.
The bill requires each segment to implement professional development programs for faculty and personnel to understand the unique needs of LGBT students, strengthen hate crime awareness and reporting mechanisms, and calls for an assessment of the campuses to develop a best practices list for improving the campus quality of life for LGBT students and other goals.
“Too often, we hear of harassment and bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender students that go unreported or unaddressed at our college campuses,” said Assemblymember Block in his committee statement. “Our campuses should be places where all Californians feel secure and are able to develop their education and talents. AB 620 provides the framework to ensure all public campuses improve their campus climates for LGBT students, faculty and staff.”
The California Postsecondary Education Commission reported in June 2009 that “LGBT students face many challenges that require additional campus services and resources for them to be successful in college, according to research in the field.” Unfortunately at all three levels of California’s public postsecondary education system, implementation of support services for LGBT students has been uneven. AB 620 arose from the recommendations of this study.
“Last year our nation witnessed the devastation and heartbreak anti-LGBT bullying causes young people, their family and friends,” said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California. “This bill is designed to help save young lives by ensuring that there are adequate resources for LGBT students and cultural competency training for staff at public colleges and universities.”
AB 620 has received support from the Anti-Defamation League, California Federation of Teachers, National Organization for Women, California State Students Association, University of California Students’ Association, Student Senate for California Community Colleges, California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists and other key organizations.
The bill is sponsored by Equality California and passed the comitted on a 6-2 vote. It is opposed by the California State University system due to implementation costs. The measure now goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for consideration.
Assemblymember Marty Block represents the cities and communities of Bonita, Chula Vista, Lemon Grove, San Diego and Spring Valley.