Assembly Bill 5 – Establishes The Safe And Supportive Schools Act

CATEGORY: Public Education Matters
CLIENT TYPE: Public Education
DATE: Dec 06, 2023

The policy of the State of California is to afford all persons in public schools equal right and opportunities in the education institutions of the state regardless of their disability, gender, gender identify, gender expression, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or any other specified characteristic.  Current law requires the State Department of Education (the Department) to develop resources or update existing resources for in-service training on school site and community resources for the support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) pupils, and strategies to increase support for LGBTQ pupils.  Existing law encourages schools operated by school districts or county offices of education and charter schools (collectively LEAs) to use the Department’s resources to provide training to teachers and certificated employees that serve pupils in grades 7 to 12 at least once every two years.

AB 5 amends existing law to establish the “Safe and Supportive Schools Act.”  The Safe and Supportive Schools Act requires LEAs to provide at least one hour of training annually to teachers and other certificated employees serving pupils in grades 7 – 12 beginning 2025-2026 school year and ending with the completion of the 2029-2030 school year.  The bill requires the Department finalize the development of an online delivery platform and an online training curriculum to support LGBTQ culturally competency training for teachers and other certificated employees.

The bill requires the training developed by the Department include the following topics:

  1. The creation of safe and supportive learning environments for LGBTQ+ pupils, including those with multiple intersecting identities, including, but not limited to, those who are members of the LGBTQ+ community, members of communities of color, immigrants, or people living with the human immunodeficiency virus.
  2. Identifying LGBTQ+ youth who are subject to, or may be at risk of, bullying and lack of acceptance at home or in their communities.
  3. The provision of targeted support services to LGBTQ+ youth, including counseling services.
  4. Requirements regarding school antibullying and harassment policies, and complaint procedures.
  5. Requirements regarding suicide prevention policies and related procedures.
  6. Requirements regarding policies relating to use of school facilities, such as bathrooms and locker rooms.
  7. Requirements regarding policies and procedures to protect the privacy of LGBTQ+ pupils.
  8. The importance of identifying local, community-based organizations that provide support to LGBTQ+ youth.
  9. The importance of identifying local physical and mental health providers with experience in treating and supporting LGBTQ+ youth.
  10. The formation of peer support or affinity clubs and organizations.
  11. The importance of school staff who have received anti-bias or other training aimed at supporting LGBTQ+ youth.
  12. Health and other curriculum materials that are inclusive of, and relevant to, LGBTQ+ youth.

Pursuant to this bill, the LEA must use the online training curriculum and platform or an in-service training that utilizes the Department’s resources to comply with the required training.  LEAs must also maintain records documenting the date that each employee received training and the name of the entity that provided the training.  Training must be provided annually to teachers and other certificated employees.  Teachers and certificated employees that complete the annual training at one LEA and move to another are not required to re-train.  However, the bill requires the LEA retain records of the training.  To satisfy this requirement, we recommend the employee’s new LEA request documentation demonstrating the employee completed the required training and maintain a copy for its records.

The bill does not define “other certificated employees.”  To ensure compliance with AB 5, we recommend LEAs require all certificated employees receive the required training.  Employees must be paid for the time spent training.

Lastly, the Department must monitor compliance with AB 5 as part of the annual compliance monitoring of state and federal programs.  The bill requires that within nine months of the completion of the five year training period, the Department report data from that compliance monitoring to the Legislature and make the report available on the Department’s internet website.

The bill provides that Education Code Section 218.3 becomes inoperative on July 1, 2031, and repealed effective January 1, 2032.

(AB 5 amends Education Code Section 218, and adds and repeals Section 218.3.)

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