After veto, Newsom signs 9 LGBTQ bills

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Sunday September 24, 2023
Share this Post:
Governor Gavin Newsom signed a number of LGBTQ-related bills September 23, one day after vetoing another one. Photo: Courtesy Governor's office<br>
Governor Gavin Newsom signed a number of LGBTQ-related bills September 23, one day after vetoing another one. Photo: Courtesy Governor's office

A day after Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a transgender youth bill, he announced Saturday night that he has signed nine other LGBTQ-related pieces of legislation, including several aimed at young people.

One of them, Senate Bill 407 by gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), directs the state's Department of Social Services to amend the foster care vetting process to ensure LGBTQ foster youth are not placed in hostile foster homes. As Wiener pointed out in pushing for passage of the bill, LGBTQ youth account for more than 30% of all youth in the foster care system.

Wiener praised the governor's action in a statement.

"LGBTQ youth deserve a supportive and affirming home the same as any other child," he stated. "I'm proud that California is taking this step to expand support for LGBTQ youth at a time when elected leaders in other states are targeting them with cruel restrictions and hate."

On Friday night, Newsom vetoed Assembly Bill 957 by Assemblymember Lori D. Wilson (D-Suisun City) that would have empowered trans and gender-nonconforming youth and require courts to consider a child's gender identity when making custody decisions, as the Bay Area Reporter noted.

In his veto message, Newsom said the bill went too far. In a statement, Wilson, who has an adult trans child, disagreed and said that she was "extremely disappointed."

Other bills signed by the governor that address LGBTQ youth needs include AB 5 by gay Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur (D-Santa Monica/West Hollywood). Dubbed the Safe and Supportive Schools Act, it mandates that teachers and credentialed staff who serve public school pupils in grades seven to 12 annually take at least one hour of online training in LGBTQ cultural competency beginning with the 2025-2026 academic year through 2031. The California Department of Education expects to roll out the training by June 30, 2025, six years after state legislators adopted a bill calling for its creation.

The governor also signed SB 857 by gay state Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), which will establish an advisory task force to identify LGBTQ+ pupil needs statewide and assist in implementing supportive initiatives, and AB 223 by gay Assemblymember Christopher Ward (D-San Diego), which requires any petition for a change of gender and sex identifier by a minor to be kept confidential by the court.

"California is proud to have some of the most robust laws in the nation when it comes to protecting and supporting our LGBTQ+ community, and we're committed to the ongoing work to create safer, more inclusive spaces for all Californians," Newsom stated in a news release announcing his actions "These measures will help protect vulnerable youth, promote acceptance, and create more supportive environments in our schools and communities."

Newsom acknowledged the work of lesbian state Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), who is chair of the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus.

"I thank Senator Eggman and the LGBTQ caucus for their dedicated leadership and partnership in advancing our state's values of equality, freedom, and acceptance," the governor stated.

Eggman stated that the caucus had a busy year in seeing LGBTQ-related legislation passed out of the Legislature.

"This year the LGBTQ caucus took up the important work of protecting our communities in the face of vile anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, discriminatory laws across the country, and hatred," she stated. "I appreciate the governor's partnership in signing some of our priority and endorsed legislation today, and hope we can continue to educate about the harm LGBTQ+ people will continue to face if we fail to act."

She was referring to the hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills passed and adopted in other states, including those that affect trans youth, such as bans from participating on sports teams that align with their gender identity.

Equality California, the statewide LGBTQ rights organization, praised the governor.

"While states across the nation are passing legislation that puts LGBTQ+ people and especially youth at risk, California is sending a clear message today — hate-filled attacks will not be tolerated and we will continue protecting and ensuring the safety of all members of the LGBTQ+ community," stated EQCA Executive Director Tony Hoang, a gay man. "We are thankful to our legislative partners for championing these important bills and to Governor Newsom for continuing to be such a strong ally in improving and protecting the wellbeing of the LGBTQ+ community as we face growing attacks from far-right extremists."

Other bills signed

Newsom did sign another of Wilson's bills. AB 760 requires the California State University system and the University of California system by the 2024-25 academic year to have campus systems that are "fully capable" of allowing current students, staff, or faculty to declare an affirmed name, gender, or both name and gender identification. And beginning with the 2023-24 graduating class, AB 760 would make it easier for graduating students to have their chosen name be the sole name listed on their diploma.

Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) had his AB 783 signed. It requires cities and counties to notify all business license applicants that single-user restrooms in any business, place of public accommodation, or government agency must be identified as all-gender restrooms. It is a way to ensure such establishments are following the six-year-old law requiring them to mark single-occupancy restrooms as being gender-neutral.

The governor signed lesbian state Senator Caroline Menjivar's (D-San Fernando Valley/Burbank) SB 372. It will ensure that the public records kept by the state's Department of Consumer Affairs don't use the deadnames or disclose the home addresses of licensed mental health professionals.

State Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) saw his SB 760 signed, which requires all K-12 public schools in California to provide at least one easily accessible all-gender restroom for students "to use safely and comfortably during school hours."

Finally, Newsom signed AB 994 by gay Assemblymember Corey A. Jackson, Ph.D. (D-Perris). With respect to an individual who has been arrested for any crime, the bill requires a police department or sheriff's office, upon posting a booking photo on social media, to use the name and pronouns given by the individual arrested. The bill authorizes a police department or sheriff's office to use other legal names or known aliases of an individual in limited specified circumstances.

AB 994 also requires that a police department or sheriff's office remove any booking photo shared on social media after 14 days unless specified circumstances exist.

According to a list of LGBTQ bills the B.A.R. has been tracking, Newsom still has seven LGBTQ-related bills to sign or veto by the October 14 deadline to do so.

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.