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California Lawmakers find out
about State's 'Hostile Climate'

People for the American Way Distributes Report in Sacramento

Urges Politicians: Implement Existing Laws to Prevent Violence

Compiled By GayToday

attacker.jpg - 5.18 K Sacramento, California--People For the American Way, California lawmakers and other activists fanned out at the state capitol Wednesday hand-delivering Hostile Climate, a nationwide PFAW Foundation report on anti-gay activity, to lawmakers and urging them to fully implement existing law intended to help prevent bias-motivated violence in public schools.

"We hope lawmakers will take notice of the real-life stories of Californians who have suffered from incidents of hate and bigotry," said Julia P. Fitz-Randolph, California Director for People For the American Way. "By enacting AB 1906, legislators would send the message that they are serious about teaching our children to reject messages of hate and intolerance."

AB 1906, sponsored by Assemblymember John Longville, would fully implement the Hate Violence Prevention Act by removing funding restrictions that impair implementation of the statute. Currently, the State Board of Education may adopt policies and establish guidelines regarding hate violence prevention in public schools, but only if its actions do not result in increased costs, a condition making it virtually impossible for the law to have any effect.

Joining People For's efforts were Assemblymembers John Longville and Shiela Kuehl; Jean Harris, Director of California Alliance for Pride and Equality; Alana Flores, a student who has filed suit against her local school district stemming from anti-gay harassment in a Morgan Hill high school; and Chris Hwang with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who is representing Ms. Flores in her lawsuit.

People For the American Way is working with local activists across the country in coordinating the hand-delivery of "Hostile Climate" with support for the passage of anti-discrimination and hate crimes legislation. PFAW recently delivered books to Florida and New York legislators. The highest number of incidents reported in the book come from California.

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"By supporting AB 1906, legislators can help change the hostile climate weathered by children who are faced with a lack of tolerance and respect for their differences," said Fitz-Randolph. "With adequate support, our schools can help stop the violence before it starts by encouraging an understanding and appreciation for California's diverse population."

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