Masters Thesis

Policy v. equal rights, a policy evaluation: a case study of California AB 537

In October 1999, California Governor Gray Davis signed into law Assembly Bill 537. The law amends the California Education Code and mandates prohibiting discrimination against students and staff on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, appearance, and behavior. The intent of AB537 was to provide equality of rights and a safe educational climate to all students and staff in California public schools. In the State’s effort to protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and staff in public schools, it left procedural language out of the AB537 and therefore amending the California Education Code leaving school officials without the means to implement proper policy to ensure the protection of LGBT students and staff. The purpose of this research is to analyze AB537 and to evaluate if this law accomplished its intent. Since the enactment of AB537, research will show if bias motivated crimes in California public schools from 2002 to 2005 have increased, given the limited crime rate data that has been recorded and submitted by public agencies, recorded and released by the United States Federal Bureau Investigations. The research will examine the bias crimes, and if LGBT students and staff have experienced psychological and sociological issues that have profoundly impacted their right to equality in a safe and secure public educational institution. Further, research will indicate why LGBT students and staff are being targeted by bias motive crimes. Also, the research will provide sufficient documentation that school officials and law enforcement have the legal responsibility to educate and train their people, and if they have utilized the resources that have been provided to accurately respond to the mandates of AB537. Finally, research will show if bias crimes have been accurately reported to the appropriate agencies in order to evaluate if it is necessary to amend AB537. It is imperative that government, the California Department of Education, school district public officials, and law enforcement work in a collaborative effort and use the essential tools necessary to combat bias crimes within California public schools and ensure that all students, specifically LGBT students, a safe public educational school climate.

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