Editorial: On board with SOGI audit

  • by BAR Editorial Board
  • Wednesday March 10, 2021
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Photo: Courtesy American Psychological Association
Photo: Courtesy American Psychological Association

We are fully on board with a letter several state lawmakers sent to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee this week requesting an audit of the California Department of Public Health to examine its procedures to collect, report and utilize data relating to the sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) of California residents. The letter, signed by straight and out legislators, includes requests not only to look at SOGI data related to COVID-19, but other SOGI information that the state health department should be collecting.

This goes back to Assemblyman David Chiu's 2015 legislation, which was delayed by several years at the request of CDPH. The pandemic, of course, has only shown why this information is so important. "According to a research brief published on March 20, 2020 from the Human Rights Campaign, those in the LGBTQ community are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19. HRC found that LGBTQ people are more likely to work in jobs in highly affected industries, often with more exposure and/or higher economic sensitivity to the COVID-19 crisis," the letter states.

"Unfortunately, CDPH has not made public any SOGI data around COVID-19 as it has with other demographic data fields like race and ethnicity," the letter continues.

We've reported on issues related to the SOGI data collection problem, both inside CDPH and the providers and labs it works with. The audit request is broad in scope and will take time (we might even all be vaccinated!) but it's critical that CDPH is examined in terms of what data is being collected and what is done with it.

Gay state Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) is on the joint committee that received the letter, and he's signaled his support for the audit. The other committee members should do the same, and prioritize it to begin as soon as possible since much of it is COVID-related.

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