C.H.E.E.R.S. Act (AB 949) would recognize competition cheerleading as a sport in California high schools
SACRAMENTO – (Wednesday, July 1, 2015) – A bill by California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to make cheerleading a high school sport was approved by Senate Education Committee today on a unanimous 7-0 vote. The bill will next be considered by Senate Appropriations Committee.
Assembly Bill 949, known as the California High Schools Expanding Equality Respect and Safety Act, or CHEERS Act, requires the California Department of Education to develop guidelines, procedures and safety standards with the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) for high school cheerleading in the collaborative manner with which it has developed these guidelines for other CIF sports. Additionally, AB 949 will allow student athletes that participate in cheerleading to earn physical education credit for their competition cheerleading activities, which is currently afforded to athletes of other CIF sports.
“Cheerleaders are some of California's best competitive student-athletes, yet they're performing without the uniform standards for health and safety that other student-athletes receive,” said Gonzalez, who has participated in cheerleading as a high school and collegiate-level cheer athlete, a high school cheerleading coach and a parent. “With the CHEERS Act, we can overcome old stereotypes that are risking the health of these young athletes, and catch up to other states who already protect their competitive cheerleaders with safe standards.”
Several other states – including Michigan, New York, Texas, Maine, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Alaska and Virginia – already recognize cheerleading as an official sport. However, in California, high school cheerleading is excluded from the formal safety standards and regulations of the California Department of Education, which oversees the CIF.
Cheerleading is the cause of about 65 percent of all catastrophic sports-related injuries involving high school girl athletes and, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were almost 37,000 emergency room visits for cheerleading injuries, an increase of almost 400 percent since 1980.
For more information on AB 949 or to interview Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Evan McLaughlin at (916) 319-2080 or (619) 850-2790.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez represents the 80th Assembly District, which includes Chula Vista, National City and the San Diego neighborhoods of City Heights, Barrio Logan, Paradise Hills, San Ysidro and Otay Mesa. For more information, visit http://asmdc.org/members/a80/.