Smith’s sexual harassment education bill signed into law

Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, speaks to the crowd after being sworn in at Oak Hills Elementary School in Valencia. Signal file photo Dan Watson/The Signal

Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into law a bill by Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, to promote sexual harassment education.

Assembly Bill 543 was designed to require ninth- through 12th-grade school sites to display age-appropriate posters in all school bathrooms and locker rooms. The posters would contain information and resources on sexual harassment prevention and procedures more accessible to high school students.

“This bill would require each school site in a school district, county office of education, or charter school, serving pupils in any of grades nine through 12, inclusive, to create a poster that notifies pupils of that policy and to prominently and conspicuously display the poster in specified public and private areas (and) each bathroom and locker room at the school site,” according to the language in the bill. “The bill would authorize the poster to be prominently and conspicuously displayed in public areas at the school site, as specified.”

The bill requires the posters to be age-appropriate and displayed in English, as well as the primary language of 15% of the student population.

“Unfortunately, sexual misconduct happens too often in places of work and learning,” Smith said in a statement on Thursday. “When sexual harassment happens in schools, it can interfere with academics and be extremely debilitating for a student’s ability to thrive.”

“We must equip our young people with the proper knowledge and resources to combat sexual harassment, and that is exactly what AB 543 does,” Smith added.

Newsom signed the bill on Tuesday, and the law will take effect on Jan. 1.

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