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San Diego Lawmaker Pushes For Cheerleader Protections

A San Diego lawmaker is pushing for employee protection for high school cheerleaders.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, said high school cheerleaders are athletes performing without health and safety standards.

Gonzalez introduced a bill that would make high school cheerleading a sport. It was approved by the Senate Education Committee this week in a 7-0 vote. Assembly Bill 949, known as the the California High School Expanding Equality Respect and Safety Act, now heads to the Senate Appropriates Committee.

"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," Gonzalez said.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission there were nearly 37,000 emergency room visits for cheerleading injuries in 2011 — an increase of almost 400 percent since 1980. Cheerleading is the cause of about 65 percent of all catastrophic sports-related injuries.

Another cheerleading-related bill is being pushed through Sacramento. Assembly Bill 202 would require that professional sports teams provide cheerleaders with the same rights and benefits as other employees.

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