California Senate Bill Set to Improve Equality of Education for LGBT Youth
The state of California is one step closer to achieving equity in education for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth, after a bill introduced to the state legislature by openly gay state Senator Sheila Kuehl was passed by the Senate. Current anti-discrimination laws include protections for students based on race, sex, disability, and religion. California State Senate Bill 1437 (SB 1437) would amend the law to include categories of sexual orientation and gender to existing criteria used to create courses of study designed to promote diversity in the public school curriculum. In addition, SB 1437 would prohibit the inclusion of official teaching materials that reflect adversely on people because of their sexual orientation or gender.
Research by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Net demonstrates that harassment based on sexual orientation causes an increase in suicide rates and truancy in LGBT students. Kuehl’s office notes that most perpetrators of hate crimes believe they are not breaking any social norms by attacking those they perceive to be lesbian, gay, transgender or bisexual. Inclusion of LGBT contributions to the larger curriculum can then create a safer environment for students by increasing awareness of issues among peers: A study by the National Center for Lesbian Rights found that 67 percent of students in a study who were taught LGBT issues in the curriculum felt safer at school.
If the bill passes, curriculum may include such items as the 1978 assassination of San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk or the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion in New York. Initially introduced on February 22, the bill passed in the Senate earlier this month and currently awaits a hearing in the State Assembly in the coming weeks, followed by consideration by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Media Resources: Los Angeles Times, 5/12/06, 5/13/06; New York Times, 5/14/06
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .