FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 31, 2016
CONTACT: Jason Howe, Equality California
PHONE: 323-848-9801 MOBILE: 415-595-9245 EMAIL: email@example.com
Sacramento–The California Legislature has approved a bill, authored by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and sponsored by Equality California, that would require private universities to publicly disclose if they discriminate against students and staff based on their gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Senate Bill 1146 would require universities that are granted a Title IX exemption to notify the California Student Aid Commission and disseminate the information to students and staff.
“With SB1146, we have shed light on the appalling discriminatory practices LGBTQ students face at private religious universities in California,” said Senator Lara. “No university should have a license to discriminate, especially those receiving state funds. This bill represents a critical first step in the ongoing efforts to protect students from discrimination for living their truths or loving openly.”
At the federal level, Title IX prohibits discrimination based on gender, including gender identity and not conforming to gender stereotypes, in education programs and activities that receive any federal funding. However, if a university believes compliance with Title IX would conflict with its values it may submit an exemption request to the U.S. Department of Education. The department has very little discretion and most requests are granted.
“Making an informed decision is important when choosing a college or university,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “Many students or employees are not aware of a particular school’s policies until they are already enrolled or on the payroll. SB 1146 would expose anti-LGBT discrimination for all to see and would allow potential students or employees to protect themselves.”
Over the last three years there has been a significant increase in the number of universities that apply for and receive an exemption to Title IX. Only one school was granted an exemption in 2013. Today, some 43 schools nationally have received an exemption, at least six of them in California. Currently, the universities that receive Title IX exemptions do not have to disclose their status to students or staff. Many students are completely unaware of the exemption and what the potential consequences might be in the event their sexual orientation or gender identity does not align with the university’s values. Students and staff across the country have reported learning of the exemption only after being expelled from school or fired from their jobs.
The bill now goes to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society. Our mission is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance, and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. Our mission includes advancing the health and well-being of LGBT Californians through direct healthcare service advocacy and education. Through electoral, advocacy, education and mobilization programs, we strive to create a broad and diverse alliance of LGBT people, educators, government officials, communities of color and faith, labor, business, and social justice communities to achieve our goals. www.eqca.org