Lawmakers in California have passed a bill they hope will save the lives of LGBTI youth who are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers.
The bill, AB 2246, requires schools in the state to have comprehensive suicide prevention plans for students in grades 7-12.
It was passed by the state Assembly on Tuesday (30 August) and becomes law if it is signed by Governor Jerry Brown.
Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, a Democrat from Long Beach, authored the bill with was sponsored by the groups Equality California and The Trevor Project.
He says it will help save the lives of at-risk youth.
‘As classroom teacher, I know from experience that educators often serve as the first line of defense when a student is suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts,’ said O’Donnell who is chairman of the Assembly Education Committee.
Current state law only encourages school districts to have anti-suicide plans in place but does not require it. The state’s Department of Education would develop a model plan to serve as a guide for the local districts.
‘In spite of the sobering statistics on youth suicide, California lags behind many other states in requiring school districts to have suicide prevention policies in place,’ says Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California.
If signed into law by Brown, California become the first state in the country to require middle and high school policies on suicide prevention for LGBTI and other at-risk populations.