California Gov. Gavin Newsom approved a final state budget that includes $3 million for LGBTQ cultural competency training for public school teachers.
California is the first in the country to allocate specific funding for this kind of training, according to Equality California, an LGBTQ advocacy group that has pushed for the training for years.
The funding will allow the California Department of Education to develop a curriculum aimed at helping teachers support LGBTQ students.
“There’s no doubt that our schools must be a safe, supportive and welcoming for all students,” Rick Chavez Zbur, executive director of Equality California, said in a statement. “At a time when states across the country are attacking transgender kids, we are elated that California has taken this momentous step toward ensuring that public school teachers and staff have the tools and training they need to support LGBTQ+ students.”
The forthcoming training will include topics such as school anti-bullying and harassment policies and complaint procedures; how to identify LGBTQ youth who are subjected to, or may be at risk of, bullying and lack of acceptance at home or in their communities; and how to find targeted support services for LGBTQ+ students, including counseling services, among other topics, according to Equality California.
Advocates say supportive teachers are important for LGBTQ students, who face unique barriers to a safe education, such as higher rates of harassment.
While California is the first state to allocate specific funding in this way, according to Equality California, the group said many school districts across the country are developing policies to support LGBTQ students — whether that’s through teacher training or a more inclusive curriculum.
California, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon — have passed legislation that requires schools to include LGBTQ history and culture in curriculum’s.