LGBT Data Collection Bill Passes Legislature

 Assembly Bill 677 by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), which would help ensure California public policy meets the needs of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) communities, Monday 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.

LGBT 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.

“Collecting this data is the crucial first step to reducing disparities, ensuring that educational programs are responsive to the needs of LGBT youth, and improving access to employment for LGBT workers,” said Rick Zbur, Equality California Executive Director. “We appreciate  Assemblymember Chiu’s continued leadership to further the effort to ensure the LGBT 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 problems within the LGBT community, 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.