GSA Network Blog

AB 420: Moving us in the right direction

Yesterday, Governor Brown signed AB 420 into law (read more from our partners at the ACLU), an important first step in the ongoing efforts to shift from punitive policies to restorative approaches in school discipline.

The law will stop suspensions of California’s youngest students for minor misbehavior under “willful defiance.” Suspensions are a key issue for LGBT youth, who are disproportionately targeted by harsh and exclusionary school discipline policies. That's why, at Queer Youth Advocacy Day the last two years, GSA Network youth leaders pushed for a broader version of the law that would end suspension for in all grades for willful defiance, a vague term that's been used to punish everything from a gender nonconforming student breaking the dress code to a lesbian student holding her girlfriend's hand. Suspension takes students away from valuable learning time, making it more difficult for youth to succeed in class and stay in school.

By signing AB 420, the Governor has recognized the harmful impact that willful defiance suspensions and other punitive school discipline policies have on youth. Now, we must advocate until students in all grades are able to express themselves and their identity without fear of suspension. 

Start a campaign for restorative approaches to school discipline in your district, or click here to support our work empowering youth to push back against school pushout!

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