Tagline: Until the Work Is Done
Bills Addressing Sex Ed, Bullying, LGBT Healthcare, Foster Care Clear Houses of Origin
June 5, 2015 at 9:16 am

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 5, 2015

CONTACT: Jason Howe, Equality California
PHONE: (323) 848-9801/MOBILE: (415) 595-9245/EMAIL: jason@eqca.org

Sacramento – Five bills sponsored by Equality California that address serious gaps in civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians have advanced from their houses of origin for consideration by the second house. All five concern the mental or physical well-being of LGBT adults and youth.

“These bills go a long way toward reducing many of the disparities in health and well-being suffered by the LGBT community compared to the general population, said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “We’re pleased that lawmakers understand the importance of making sure that all children are safe and respected, and that all Californians have equal access to quality healthcare.”

The following bills cleared their houses of origin by today’s deadline:

Reduces disparities in health and well-being for LGBT people through data collection.
AB 959, authored by Assemblymember David Chiu, would require government agencies to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity whenever additional demographic data is collected. Collecting this data will help indicate the extent to which LGBT people are experiencing disparities in health and well-being and whether government programs are reaching those in need. Passed by a unanimous vote of 69-0.

Combats bullying and supports LGBT youth.
AB 827, authored by Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, would create more supportive and safer learning environments for LGBT students by giving teachers tools to assist LGBT students in the coming out process or in combating bullying. LGBT youth have a higher dropout rate than their straight peers and are four times more likely to attempt suicide. Passed by a bipartisan vote of 59-15.

Updates existing law to ensure that sex education is inclusive of LGBT relationships.
AB 329, authored by Assemblymember Shirley Weber, would update and strengthen existing law to ensure that students receive sex education that is comprehensive, medically accurate, age-appropriate and inclusive. LGBT students often feel invisible or stigmatized in health classes. LGBT-inclusive education has been shown to have a positive effect on school climate overall and make LGBT youth feel safer in school. EQCA is co-sponsoring AB 329 with American Civil Liberties Union of California, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, Forward Together, and Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. Passed by a vote of 51-25.

Requires out-of-state companies contracting with the state of California to provide insurance benefits to transgender employees.
SB 703, authored by Senator Mark Leno, prohibits state agencies from doing business with companies that fail to offer transgender employees the same healthcare coverage and benefits they offer all other workers. A third of transgender people report being denied healthcare coverage. EQCA is co-sponsoring SB 703 with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Transgender Law Center. Passed by a vote of 25-13.

Requires child welfare officials to consider a child’s gender identity when making a foster care placement.
SB 731, authored by Sen. Mark Leno, would require child welfare workers placing youth in foster homes to take a young person’s gender identity into account. The bill is designed to ensure that all foster youth, including those who identify as transgender, are placed in appropriate homes where they feel safe and accepted. EQCA is co-sponsoring SB 731 with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Transgender Law Center. Passed by a bipartisan vote of 28-5.

With these five pieces of legislation, all of EQCA’s sponsored bills this session have advanced to the second house. EQCA is sponsoring three bills in addition to these five that already passed their house of origin earlier this year: AB 960 authored by Assemblymember David Chiu, the Equal Protection for All Families Act, co-sponsored with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Our Family Coalition; AB 1050 authored by Assemblymember Evan Low, to ensure private organizations that discriminate do not benefit from a state employee charitable giving program; and AB 87 authored by Assemblymember Mark Stone to end discrimination against transgender jurors.

Over the past 17 years, EQCA has changed the legislative landscape for LGBT people in California — from a state with extremely limited protections for LGBT people to a state with some of the most comprehensive LGBT civil rights protections in the world. A key focus of its mission, expanded late last year, is to address disparities in the health and well-being of LGBT Californians. This expanded mission has guided this year’s legislative package.

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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


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