Today, a Sacramento Superior Court dismissed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate SB 777, the California Student Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination against students on the basis of race, religion, disability, gender, and sexual orientation. The lawsuit was brought by a right-wing group that specifically objected to protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. The court held that the plaintiffs had failed to show any way in which the statute was even allegedly unlawful.
“We are pleased the court rejected this attack on the Student Civil Rights Act,” said Carolyn Laub, Gay- Straight Alliance Network Executive Director. “School should be a safe place for all children, including those who are—or are perceived to be—lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.”
The lawsuit was filed on November 5, 2008. State Superintendent Jack O’Connell, represented by California Attorney General Jerry Brown, filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on January 8, 2009. On March 19, 2009, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, the Transgender Law Center, Equality California, and Gay-Straight Alliance Network filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the motion to dismiss.
Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB 777 into law on October 12, 2007. SB 777 reinforced existing anti- discrimination protections in publicly-funded schools and updated the Education Code so that teachers and administrators do not have to cross-reference other parts of state law to understand their obligations to protect students from harassment and discrimination in all school activities. The bill was sponsored by Equality California, the state’s LGBTQ legislative organization, and authored by former Senator Sheila Kuehl.
According to the 2001 California Healthy Kids Survey, nearly 30 percent of California youth in grades 7 to 11 report experiencing harassment or bullying based on their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender, or sexual orientation.
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.
Equality California Founded in 1998, Equality California celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2008, commemorating a decade of building a state of equality in California. EQCA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to achieve equality and civil rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians.
GSA Network is a nonprofit organization, governed by youth and adults, that empowers youth activists to fight homophobia and transphobia in schools through Gay-Straight Alliance clubs. There are currently more than 650 GSA clubs in California schools, including more than 45% of the public high schools. http:// www.gsanetwork.org/.
The Transgender Law Center is a civil rights organization advocating for transgender communities through direct legal services, education, community organizing, and policy and media advocacy.