Sacramento – Governor Jerry Brown today signed four Equality California-sponsored bills that require state health and social service agencies to count LGBT people, provide resources to help teachers support LGBT students, and more. Thus far, the governor has signed seven out of eight bills sponsored by Equality California this legislative session. He has until October 11 to sign the remaining bill, SB 731.
“We are deeply grateful to both Governor Brown and the legislators who authored and got these bills passed,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “California continues to lead the nation recognizing and protecting LGBT people as fully equal members of society thanks to their leadership.”
AB 959, authored by Assemblymember David Chiu, requires state health and social services agencies to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity whenever additional demographic data is collected. Collecting this data helps address LGBT disparities in health and well-being and determine whether government programs successfully reach those in need of care and assistance.
“I am thrilled by our governor’s actions today and overjoyed that because of AB 959 our LGBT communities will now be counted by the state for vital health and well-being services,” said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco). “The governor has restored California’s status as a leader of LGBT civil rights. After years of being left out of statewide demographic data, LGBT individuals will now be able to share their experiences to provide much-needed data to understand and ultimately reduce long standing health disparities that have disproportionately impacted these communities.”
“We thank Governor Brown for his leadership in signing this first in the nation legislation requiring that data be collected to address the needs of LGBT people,” said Zbur. “LGBT people have been invisible to government agencies that provide social services for far too long, because LGBT people are not counted. This landmark bill will start to give California government and the LGBT community the tools necessary to develop programs to meet the healthcare and social service needs of LGBT people. Once again, California leads the nation in advancing important LGBT legislation and we thank both the Governor and Assemblymember David Chiu.”
AB 960, also authored by Chiu, updates California’s assisted reproduction laws to recognize intended parents using assisted reproduction, whether or not a medical professional is involved. EQCA co-sponsored AB 960 with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Our Family Coalition.
“I am thrilled that the Governor has continued to stand in strong support of our LGBT couples,” said Chiu. “This long-needed fix ensures that equal legal protections are in place for our LGBT couples as they start their families.”
“Parents trying to conceive already face a considerable amount of anxiety — they don’t need to worry that their legal connection to their child is in danger,” said Zbur. “This law strengthens families by recognizing that intended parents are parents, no matter how their children are conceived.”
AB 827, authored by Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, provides resources and information to aid teachers in identifying and assisting LGBT students in need of support in dealing with bullying or lack of social acceptance. This bill helps address the needs of LGBT youth, who have a higher dropout rate than their straight peers and are four times more likely to attempt suicide.
“My experience as a classroom teacher has taught me one of the most important keys to academic success is a safe and inclusive learning environment,” said Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), who chairs the Assembly Education Committee. “With the passage of AB 827, we will ensure our LGBTQ students have access to community resources and teachers are able to foster supportive learning environments, improve academic achievement and make our schools safer.”
“Every good teacher wants to see their students thrive and learn,” said Zbur. “This new law will help educators have the resources they need to help LGBT kids who are being bullied or are facing a lack of social acceptance.”
SB 703, authored by Senator Mark Leno, requires contractors doing business with state agencies to offer transgender employees the same healthcare coverage offered to all other workers. EQCA co-sponsored SB 703 with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Transgender Law Center.
“California law already stipulates that employers cannot deny transgender people health care and other benefits, but a loophole in state law has allowed companies that contract with the state to refuse equal health coverage,” said Senator Leno, D-San Francisco. “This bill closes that loophole. Denying equal benefits to employees at the same company based on gender identity is harmful and wrong. It also can jeopardize employee health and strain publicly-funded programs that fill in the gaps when employers don’t provide the same benefits to everyone.”
“With a third of transgender people reporting having been denied healthcare coverage, this law is an important step in improving the health of all members of the LGBT community,” said Zbur. “It also sends an important message. If you want to do business in California, you have to treat all your employees equally.”
During the 2015 legislative session, the number of bills successfully sponsored by Equality California, since its inception, reached 110.
Equality California is California’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization focused on 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