SACRAMENTO, CA — Today, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the signing of Senate Bill 857 authored by Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz). This new law requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to convene an LGBTQ+ advisory task force to identify needs and make recommendations to create a safe and supportive learning environment for LGBTQ+ students.
“SB 857 empowers our LGBTQ+ students as school campuses have become a battle ground in the fight for LGBTQ+ dignity and humanity. These students continue to find themselves caught in the cross fire, lacking the support and resources they need to thrive,” said Senator Laird. “As California continues to lead in efforts to promote the health and dignity of LGBTQ+ students, Governor Newsom’s signature today affirms the fact that our state truly cares and values all students.”
A product of months of collaboration with the California Association of Student Councils, Equality California, and California Department of Education, SB 857 intends to place students at the center of the discussion, while still creating seats for administrators, community leaders, and other professionals.
In 2021, Paso Robles High School experienced an incident where local high school students ripped down a Pride Flag, defecated on it, and posted it on social media. The administration and school board failed to respond. However, students, primarily representing the LGBTQ+ community, from the high school organized and held a town hall meeting with a turnout of over 350 people. This incident became a front-page story and subject to editorials statewide. Due to the increased scrutiny, this prompted the administration and school board to take appropriate action. In recognition of their bravery, their efforts were acknowledged on the Senate floor last year.
“Witnessing these young folks realize their own power was a truly inspiring experience. It was an important reminder for myself just as much as them on what a collective voice can accomplish in the face of what seems like daunting odds,” said Senator Laird.
The advisory task force will convene by July 1, 2024 and report their findings and recommendations to the Legislature, the Superintendent, and the Governor by January 1, 2026.
Senator Laird stated, “It is high time that we ensure California's students have a rightful place at the table when it comes to matters of equity and inclusion. They should not have to demand a seat only after a distressing incident occurs and makes headlines.”
Senator John Laird represents the 17th State Senate District, which includes all of Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo counties, the majority of Monterey County, as well as parts of Santa Clara County. More information on Senator Laird can be found here.