As passage deadline nears, 9 LGBTQ bills sent to CA Gov. Newsom

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Friday August 26, 2022
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Nine LGBTQ-related bills have been sent to Governor Gavin Newsom for him to sign or veto. Photo: Courtesy Governor's office
Nine LGBTQ-related bills have been sent to Governor Gavin Newsom for him to sign or veto. Photo: Courtesy Governor's office

As the deadline fast approaches for California legislators to adopt legislation this year, nine LGBTQ-related bills have now been sent to Governor Gavin Newsom to either veto or sign into law. Another three bills are awaiting final votes ahead of lawmakers' final legislative session on August 31.

A number of the bills sent this week for Newsom's signature will improve health care access and other services for transgender and gender-nonconforming Californians. One authored by gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), Senate Bill 923, would require medical professionals who interact with transgender, gender-nonconforming, and intersex patients to receive cultural competency training, and health providers would need to create searchable online directories of their gender-affirming services.

Known as the TGI Inclusive Care Act, it builds on the state's Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund created in 2020 and allocated $13 million last year. The Office of Health Equity within the State Department of Public Health administers the fund and awards grants to organizations providing trans-inclusive health care.

"Trans people often have to educate their healthcare providers about gender in order to receive the care they need," stated Wiener. "That responsibility should never fall on a patient. SB 964 is first-in-the-nation legislation which will ensure California stays at the forefront of trans-inclusive health care."

Under Assembly Bill 2521 by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), the fund would be renamed the TGI Wellness and Equity Fund. A main champion for its creation, Santiago also wants to see the health equity office establish a community advisory committee of TGI individuals that would recommend which organizations and entities should receive funding and how much each grant should be.

The state's pharmacists and pharmacy technicians would have to undergo at least one hour of culturally competent training about the concerns of LGBTQ+ patients before receiving a license under AB 2194 authored by gay Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego).

Bills focus on LGBTQ students

AB 2315 by Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) would require the governing board of each community college district in California to implement a process by which students, staff, and faculty can declare an affirmed name, gender, or both name and gender identification to be used in records where legal names are not required by law. The community colleges would need to be in compliance with AB 2315 commencing with the 2023—24 academic year.

It builds on a bill adopted last year that prohibits the state's community colleges and public universities from deadnaming trans and nonbinary students — that is using their former names they were given based on the sex they were assigned at birth — on their diplomas and academic records.

Protections for LGBTQ foster families would be bolstered under AB 2466 authored by lesbian Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona). It explicitly prohibits an agency that places foster children from declining to place a child with a resource family because a resource family parent identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. It would also scrap the usage of the phrase "hard-to-place children" in state codes.

"We must strive to instill this basic principle in foster care system: No child is too difficult to love or care for regardless of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression," tweeted Cervantes after her bill passed August 25.

Under AB 2663 by Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland), the state Department of Social Services would establish a five-year pilot project called the Youth Acceptance Project in counties that volunteer to sign up for it. The state agency would contract with the nonprofit Family Builders by Adoption to provide therapeutic-style support and intervention services to LGBTQ+ youth who receive, or are at risk of receiving, child welfare services.

"By expanding this model statewide, we can change the heartbreaking outcomes youth experience from rejection to acceptance," wrote Jill Jacobs, a lesbian who is executive director of the Oakland-based agency in an August 25 guest opinion for the Bay Area Reporter.

LGBTQ+ youth who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness, and their families who are struggling with accepting the youth's sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression, would also be eligible to receive services through the project. A clinician or social worker would be in charge of the services, which the bill specifically requires to be designed to increase acceptance among a LGBTQ+ youth's parents, caregivers, foster parents, adoptive parents, extended family members, social workers, and additional staff involved in a youth's care

The state agency would have to submit a report to the Legislature with an evaluation of the pilot project, which would end on January 1, 2030.

Other bills for LGBTQ families, businesses

Via AB 2436 by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) and co-authored with Cervantes, death certificates would need to list a decedents' parents without referring to the parents' gender. The change would benefit LGBTQ+ parents as they navigate estate proceedings and other matters following the death of a child. It builds on the law pushed by Bauer-Kahan last year that added nonbinary as a gender option on the forms.

"So proud that my bill to increase gender inclusive language on death certificates has passed the Senate! #AB2436 will ensure all families are correctly identified," Bauer-Kahan tweeted August 24.

AB 2873, authored by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), would require applicants of the state's low-income housing tax credit programs, as well as any of their subsidiaries and affiliates, to annually submit a report to the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee on how they plan to increase procurement from LGBTQ business enterprises and those owned by women, minorities and disabled veterans.

The bill would also require the state committee to include in its annual reports beginning in 2023 a summary of the commitments made by affordable housing companies to increase their working with the various business enterprises and their progress toward meeting those goals.

AB 1041 by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) would expand family leave provisions for workers to include their chosen family members in addition to their biological relatives, spouses and children. It aims to take into account how many LGBTQ people are estranged from their biological families and have households comprised of close friends they may need to care for during times of illness.

Three bills await final votes

Among the trio of bills that have yet to be sent to Newsom is Wiener's SB 107 that would make California a refuge for trans kids and their families persecuted by their own governments in states such as Texas and Idaho. It would establish protections for parents who bring their trans kids to California to access gender-affirming health care banned in their home state.

Another is AB 2417, the Youth Bill of Rights by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), that would require incarcerated youth, many of whom are LGBTQ+, to be informed of their existing rights under state and federal law and have easier access to that information.

Also waiting to be passed is the STI Prevention & Treatment Fairness Act, SB 1234 authored by Senator Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), that aims to expand access to services related to the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections to income-eligible patients who have confidentiality concerns, including LGBTQ+ patients, through the state's Family Planning, Access, Care, and Treatment program. Such patients would be reimbursed for the cost of their care, subject to an appropriation by the Legislature and any potential draw down of federal matching funds.

Two bills already signed

Newsom has already signed two LGBTQ bills this year. One, AB 1741 introduced by gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell), requires the governor to annually proclaim November 20 as Transgender Day of Remembrance. The event, started in 1998 by B.A.R. Transmissions columnist Gwen Smith, commemorates those transgender people lost to violence in a given year.

He also signed Wiener's SB 357 that repeals California's "walking while trans" loitering law. Sex worker advocates and LGBTQ leaders have denounced such criminal codes due to police using them to arrest transgender women who engage in prostitution in order to make a living.

The Legislature had passed the bill last year, but Wiener held off on sending it to the governor until this year as Newsom reviewed it. California now joins the state of New York in repealing its loitering laws, as the Empire State did so in 2021.

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