California's Senate and General Assembly unanimously passed a new bill this week requiring health care providers to collect sexual orientation and gender identity data for all communicable diseases. The legislation now heads to Gov. Gavin Newsom's desk for his expected signature.
The bill, Senate Bill 932, was authored and spearheaded by out state Sen. Scott Wiener.
"We’ve come a long way since the 1980s and 1990s, during which LGBTQ people were ignored and marginalized while facing the HIV/AIDS crisis," Wiener, who represents San Francisco, said in a statement. "But we have a long way to go before the LGBTQ community is fully supported and cared for by our health infrastructure. SB 932 would be a groundbreaking law to help get us there."
Wiener advocated for the bill after California announced this spring that officials were collecting data on race, age, and sex in regard to cases of COVID-19, but not sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBTQ+ people have higher rates of smoking, cancer, HIV, and homelessness, which made the omission even more glaring. The governor's office announced in July that the state would begin counting LGBTQ+ data among COVID cases, along with all communicable diseases. Wiener's bill codifies the data collection into law, which is necessary considering the "LGBTQ community has historically been overlooked by our public health infrastructure," according to Wiener, who added that the legislation "will help LGBTQ people get the health resources and support they need."
"We must never again allow members of the LGBTQ+ community to be erased or ignored during a pandemic or any other health crisis," Equality California Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur said in a statement.