With state legislators back from their spring recess, LGBTQ bills are advancing out of oversight committees in the California Legislature. As in previous years, most of the bills are related to health issues or protecting transgender individuals who have come under increasing attack by Republican leaders and conservative groups.

One bill attracting significant interest from LGBTQ health advocates is Senate Bill 957 authored by gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). As the Bay Area Reporter first reported in January, the legislation aims to ensure that state health officials are meeting their requirements to ask about sexual orientation and gender identity demographics, known as SOGI data for short.

It is in response to a scathing 2023 report from California’s state auditor that found the statewide health department’s SOGI data collection efforts were woefully inadequate. If enacted, SB 957 would require that state health officials implement all of the recommendations in the audit.

Having made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in March, the bill earlier this month passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a similar 9-2 vote. It is now before the Senate Appropriations Committee, where it could be taken up on April 15.

“We can’t fix a problem we can’t measure, and with SB 957 we can take a critical step to delivering true health equity,” stated Wiener. “California must begin collecting data to understand the unique health challenges faced by LGBTQ people….”

“Opposition to the bill was also present at both hearings, where hateful and dehumanizing misinformation about LGBTQ people and our lives were shared. The increase in anti-LGBTQ sentiments across the state and country has been heightened even further during this election cycle,” noted Isaias Guzman, the LGBTQ health network’s manager of programs, in a recent email seeking other agencies’ support for it….

From the Bay Area Reporter