California governor signs raft of protections for LGBTQ+ youth

California governor Gavin Newsom

California’s governor has signed four pieces of legislation aimed at strengthening protections and providing better support for LGBTQ+ youth in the Golden State.

The measures include AB 5, which sets out implementation timelines for LGBTQ+ cultural competency training by public school teachers and staff, the establishment of an advisory task force to identify LGBTQ+ pupil needs across the state (SB 857) and AB 223, which requires any petition for a minor to change their sex markers to be kept confidential by the court.

As well as this, SB 407 directs the Department of Social Services to amend the foster care vetting process to make sure ensure LGBTQ+ youth in the foster system are not placed in anti-LGBTQ+ foster homes. This law will offer better protections for extremely vulnerable LGBTQ+ young people in the state.

Democratic governor Gavin Newsom’s signature on the bills comes directly after he vetoed a piece of legislation which would make parent’s affirmation of their child’s gender a factor in child custody hearings. 

The governor said the reason he chose not to sign the bill was because courts in the state are already “required to consider a child’s health, safety, and welfare when determining the best interests of a child in these proceedings”, which includes a parent’s affirmation of their child’s gender.  

Including the specific characteristic of gender in custody cases could, in his opinion, result in people using “this strategy to diminish the civil rights of vulnerable communities”. 

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“California is proud to have some of the most robust laws in the nation when it comes to protecting and supporting our LGBTQ+ community, and we’re committed to the ongoing work to create safer, more inclusive spaces for all Californians,” Newsom said in a statement following the four LGBTQ+ protection bills being signed.  

“These measures will help protect vulnerable youth, promote acceptance, and create more supportive environments in our schools and communities. 

“I thank Senator Eggman and the LGBTQ Caucus for their dedicated leadership and partnership in advancing our state’s values of equality, freedom and acceptance.”

Senator Scott Wiener – who authored SB 407 – said LGBTQ+ young people “deserve a supportive and affirming home the same as any other child”. 

“I’m proud that California is taking this step to expand support for LGBTQ+ youth at a time when elected leaders in other states are targeting them with cruel restrictions and hate,” Wiener added. 

In response to the bills being signed by Newsom, senator Susan Talamantes Eggman – chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus – noted that the Caucus took up the mantle of protecting the community “in the face of vile anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, discriminatory laws across the country, and hatred”. 

“I appreciate the governor’s partnership in signing some of our priority and endorsed legislation today, and hope we can continue to educate about the harm LGBTQ+ people will continue to face if we fail to act,” Eggman said.  

Equality California executive director Tony Hoang described the four bills as a “clear message” from the state that “hate-filled attacks will not be tolerated”. 

Hoang said: “We are thankful to our legislative partners for championing these important bills and to governor Newsom for continuing to be such a strong ally in improving and protecting the wellbeing of the LGBTQ+ community as we face growing attacks from far-right extremists.”

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