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SB48 fails as anti-equality advocates fall short of the mark

SAN FRANCISCO -- Equality California (EQCA) announced today that the anti-equality advocates behind SB48 -- a referendum to overturn the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act -- have failed to collect the required number of signatures to bring it to the people.

The group was hoping to put the referendum on the November 2012 ballot, but failed to meet the deadline.

Authored by state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by both EQCA and GSA Network, the FAIR Education Act requires California schools to integrate age-appropriate and factual information about historical roles of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, people with disabilities and people of color into existing social science instruction. It was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown earlier this year.

"The FAIR Education Act will simply ensure that California’s students learn an honest, accurate, and inclusive account of history, but opponents of equality have grossly distorted the intent and the effect of the FAIR Education act in their quest to secure signatures for this referendum. Today's victory shows that their lies cannot stand up to our truth," said Roland Palencia, Equality California Executive Director and Interim Executive Committee Co-Chair of the coalition to protect the FAIR Education Act. “But we know that opponents of equality won't stop here. We remain vigilant, not only to make sure that people know the facts about the FAIR Education Act, but also to continue preparing for new attacks on the FAIR Education Act at the ballot box, in the legislature and in courts of law."

"Now it's time to focus on implementing the FAIR Education Act and demonstrate to the public that our opponents’ lies are nothing more than smear tactics designed to censor the historical contributions of LGBT people, people with disabilities and people of color from social studies classes," said Laura Valdez, interim executive director of Gay-Straight Alliance Network and co-chair of the Interim Executive Committee of the coalition to protect the FAIR Education Act.

Valdez went on to say that GSA Network is already working with schools, teachers, parents and administrators to "ensure the fair and accurate portrayal of historical marginalized groups" in the education system.

"Today’s news is welcome and it comes as the Second Annual Disability History Week in full swing, a reminder that youth with disabilities are powerful voices for change and tolerance,” said Teresa Favuzzi, Executive Director of the California Foundation for Independent Living. “We look forward to getting to work to implement this important law and to ensure that disability history is included in a full, inclusive, study of our history.”

Over the summer a broad coalition of support formed to back the Fair Education Act and protect the law. For more information about this coalition, visit their website.

About the sponsors of the FAIR Education Act

Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil rights protections in the nation.

Equality California has passed more than 70 pieces of legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment. For more information, visit eqca.org.

Gay-Straight Alliance Network (GSA Network) is a national youth leadership organization that empowers youth activists to fight homophobia and transphobia in schools by training student leaders and supporting student-led Gay-Straight Alliance clubs throughout the country. In California alone, GSA Network has brought GSA clubs to 56% of public high schools, impacting more than 1.1 million students at 850 schools. GSA Network's youth advocates have played a key role in changing laws and policies that impact youth at the local and state level.

GSA Network operates the National Association of GSA Networks, which unites more than 30 statewide networks of GSA clubs throughout the country. GSA Network is also the founder of the Make It Better Project, which aims to stop bullying and prevent suicide. For more information, visit their gsanetwork.org.