High school senior Calen Valencia knows all too well what bullying is like. Despite years of tough anti-bullying laws in California, some in place for more than a decade, Valencia says he feels as though schools are doing a poor job of helping students like him.
"Teachers never really stepped in and I didn't know how to handle the situation," Valencia said.
The Joint Legislative Audit Committee is finally doing something about it. Assemblyman Ricardo Lara has gotten approval for an audit of every public school and local education agency in the state to examine whether anti-bullying and harassment laws have been implemented.
A California Healthy Kids Survey in 2000 found that every year more than 200,000 kids were harassed because they were gay or someone thought they were gay.
Lara points to the recent shooting death of 15-year-old Lawrence King in Oxnard and the suicide of 13-year-old Seth Walsh of Tehachapi as examples of how there might be some gaps, "One student being bullied or harassed is too many. We've seen our students either commit suicide, murdered. And we need to do everything we can to save every life."
Opponents say Democrats shouldn't make state government interfere with local issues.
"They want to control bullies which really isn't under the purview of the government, that's really the parents responsibility" said Assemblyman Tim Donnelly. "Why don't they do an audit on why the education system is failing."
But an audit is important to Valencia, "Yeah, a lot of schools don't really implement them at all. I didn't find out about these laws until this year in April."
The audit is expected to take nine months.