Sacramento – The California Legislature today passed a bill that would require that certain state employment and education agencies collect demographic data about LGBTQ people whenever they collect data about other demographic groups. Assembly Bill 677, authored by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by Equality California, would help ensure that state programs meet the needs of the LGBTQ community. The bill passed the Assembly on concurrence and now heads to the Governor’s desk.
“I want to thank all of my colleagues in the Legislature for understanding the obstacles facing LGBT communities and to help create informed policies to eliminate educational and employments disparities,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “Good information will move us closer to full equality.”
Assembly Bill 677 builds on data collection best practices by requiring education and employment-related government agencies to collect voluntarily provided sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data when collecting other demographic data. Aggregated SOGI data collected pursuant to this bill will be reported to the Legislature and made publicly available.
LGBTQ communities face disproportionately high rates of poverty, suicide, homelessness, isolation, substance abuse, and violence, and low rates of health insurance. These issues are more prevalent for youth and seniors, communities of color, and transgender and undocumented communities. Unless SOGI data are collected, it is not possible to determine if government programs are meeting the needs of the LGBTQ community.
“LGBTQ people don’t count if we’re not counted,” said Rick Zbur, Equality California Executive Director. “That is especially true in areas where LGBTQ people are especially vulnerable – in the workplace or at school. We appreciate Assemblymember Chiu’s continued leadership to further the effort to ensure the LGBTQ community counts and is counted in California.”
In 2015 the Legislature passed and the Governor signed AB 959, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Disparities Reduction Act, also authored by Asm. Chiu. This law requires state agencies that provide health and human services to collect voluntarily provided information about SOGI in the regular course of collecting other types of demographic data.
An existing but limited pool of SOGI-related data has identified significant disparities within the LGBTQ community compared to the general public, including educational attainment and workplace discrimination.
“In recent years, with little fanfare, school districts and other entities have begun collecting LGBT data along with other standard demographic information,” said Lisa Cisneros, LGBT Program Director for California Rural Legal Assistance, during a legislative hearing earlier this year. “Not all school districts or government agencies collect LGBT data, but where it exists the information has been incredibly helpful in informing policies and practices to foster LGBT equality. Codifying LGBT-inclusive data collection in the education and other contexts will help us detect and address disparities, while also identifying communities that are models for ensuring equal opportunity for all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The Governor has until October 15 to act on AB 677.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.eqca.org