CALIFORNIA

I. Background:

California is largely a conservative state, despite some pockets of progressivism. Conservative governors have held sway for much of the past twenty years and the legislature in 1994 fell into conservative control. California's sodomy law was repealed in 1976. In 1992 or so, California passed a law outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment and housing. However, the bill that became law was a watered-down version of the original bill, which had passed both the State Assembly and the Senate but was vetoed by then-Governor Wilson, a Republican. Since then, Governor Wilson moved further to the right; he won reelection in 1994 by strongly supporting the anti-immigrant and pro-racist Proposition 187 and based his Presidential bid on dismantling affirmative action.

California is a state of political extremes, from the well organized and vocal queer presence of San Francisco and Los Angeles to the right-wing bastion of Orange County, home of William Dannemeyer and Robert Dornan. In 1994, Sheila James Kuehl, an out lesbian, was elected to the State Assembly (the first out LGBT person ever to attain election to the state's legislature). Kuehl's office is very active on education issues for our community...contact her aide, Jennifer Richard. In her first legislative session (1995), she introduced, with Assemblymember Richard Katz, a bill that would have given lesbian, gay and bisexual public schoool students protection from discrimination in the classroom and that would prohibit teachers from using materials that "reflect adversely on persons because of their sexual orientation." The bill (AB 1001, "Dignity for All Students") actually made it through the Higher Education Committee but was killed by a straight [pun acknowledged] party line 8-8 vote in the Education Committee. It was reintroduced in Jan. 96 and killed again shortly after that by a straight (you should pardon the expression) party vote.

In 1996, Sheila was joined in the State Assembly by Carole Migden [D], out lesbian from San Francisco.

Also in 1994, the first-ever woman, and progressive at that, was elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction (Delaine Eastin). Eastin's office has been supportive of LGBT issues, but less so than hoped, especially considering her strong support by the LGBT community during her campaign. Her office, for example, sent a letter to the Assembly Education Committee in support of AB 1001; on the other hand, her office, while pushing safe schools, has taken no leadership or initiative toward inclusion of material re anti-LGBT hate violence in schools. At a January 3 '96 meeting with Susie Lange, Eastin's PR aide, Lange expressed interest in OUR sending such materials for their CONSIDERATION for inclusion, but had no idea where to go on her own to establish direct sources for ongoing communication re such issues and also could not guarantee that the materials would be included.

Because The P.E.R.S.O.N. Project is based in the Bay Area, we have been in regular contact with a number of state educational officials throughout the huge (but dwindling, due to cutbacks) state education bureaucracy regarding the inclusion of sexual orientation in the curriculum. Some officials are very supportive; some are stonewalling (see below).

The Governor can be reached as follows:

Governor's Office

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-445-4633

To send an Electronic Mail please visit:
http://www.govmail.ca.gov

The State Senate votes on many education-related bills. ALSO, the Senate confirms the nominations by the Governor of members of the State Board of Education.

The regular state legislative session runs from Jan-03 to Aug-31. To find out legislative information such as members, committees, bill status, etc. go to URL:

http://www.sen.ca.gov/ftp/access/guides/uguide.htm

A list of state senators addresses and office phones is at URL:

ftp://leginfo.public.ca.gov/pub/dailyfile/senators

And the State Senate's Home Page is

http://www.sen.ca.gov/

Email addresses for assemblymembers can be found at:

http://www.assembly.ca.gov/acs/acsframeset7text.htm

and the Assembly's Home Page is http://www.assembly.ca.gov/acs/defaulttext.asp

Speaker of the Assembly is Fabian Núñez, a moderate Democrat.

Assemblymember.Nunez@assembly.ca.gov

Next Section of the California Document

Last updated 8/1/2005 by Jean Richter, richter@eecs.Berkeley.EDU