On Wednesday, Gov. Gerry Brown signed a bill into law making cheerleading an official high school sport in California.
The bipartisan bill (AB 949) was authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), who announced the news on social media:
— Lorena Gonzalez (@LorenaSGonzalez) October 7, 2015
Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach) was the Senate principal co-author of the bill. Gonzalez issued a press release announcing the passage of the new law and thanking Gov. Brown, who was also a cheerleader during his youth at St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco.
“For two decades, I have been baffled that young women and men cheerleaders in our high schools are denied the right to officially participate in their chosen sport,” said Gonzalez, who has participated in cheerleading as a high school and collegiate-level cheer athlete, a high school cheerleading coach and a parent. “Today, the Governor has ensured these athletes will earn the respect and have the safety standards they deserve. Equity comes in many forms and today it came in recognition that a traditional female activity can also be a sport.”
“I thank the Governor for signing this important measure to address the lack of safeguards in cheerleading that results in too many injuries,” said Lara, a former high school cheerleader. “Don’t let the stereotypes or uniforms fool you – cheerleading is a real sport and deserves the same attention, safety requirements and respect that all other sport teams receive. This is about equity and respect for athletes who engage in some of the most dangerous activities on our school campuses.”
Other states that treat competitive cheerleading as an official high school sport include Michigan, New York, Maine, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Alaska and Virginia.
In August, Gov. Brown signed another of Gonzalez’s bills, AB202, which requires professional sports teams to offer cheerleaders minimum wage, workers’ compensation, paid sick leave and rest breaks.