Assembly bill for LGBT inclusion awaits governor’s signature

A California State Assembly bill designed to amend anti-discrimination policies related to sexual orientation and gender identity in the Donahoe Higher Education Act was approved by the state Legislature Sept. 1 and was sent to Gov. Jerry Brown for signature Monday.

AB 620, drafted in February by state Assemblymember Marty Block, D-San Diego, proposes an amendment to the act, which establishes the missions and functions of the University of California, the California State University and the California Community Colleges and the rules of student conduct.

The bill would require CSU and community college campuses and request the UC to allow students to identify their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in the demographic data they already collect and to report it to the state Legislature annually — which would cost the UC about $30,000, according to spokesperson for the UC Office of the President Dianne Klein — as well as provide student services for the LGBT community and awareness training for faculty and staff.

Mario Guerrero, government affairs director for Equality California, who helped to draft the language of the assembly bill, said it was a very straight forward process to get it from the state Assembly to the Senate and that the bill would require colleges and universities to “clean up” their system so that data previously not included about LGBT community is recorded.

“We want an accurate picture of the number of students on campus and what their needs are,” Guerrero said.

The UC Board of Regents has a longstanding policy to protect all under-represented students from discrimination and hate crimes, Klein said.

“We have been neutral about the bill because it really does not apply to us,” she said. “We have always supported the LGBT community and there are policies and procedures that have been in place for a very long time. We have always been supportive of the intent of the bill.”

According to Klein, the only change that the bill would bring to the UC would be the data gathering process. Although information about gender and race is currently collected, the bill specifies that each segment collect aggregate demographics information on gender and sexual orientation and submit it to the state Legislature annually.

The CSU previously opposed the bill, stating in April that budget cuts caused it to “prioritize what we do have left in revenue … for the classroom.”

CSU spokesperson Erik Fallis said that there are provisions in place for both staff and faculty and within the student code of conduct for issues related to hate crimes of any kind.

“Issues related to bullying and discrimination are something that the university takes incredibly seriously,” Fallis said. “We provide quite a bit of training on campus for this and with the current climate, another layer of training would mean additional costs in the midst of $650 million budget cuts for the CSUs.”

Brown’s office has not taken a position on the bill, said spokesperson Evan Westrup in an email. Brown has until Oct. 9 to act on the bill.