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Sen. Padilla & American Diabetes Association on effort to lower insulin cost

“For far too long, Americans with diabetes have been exploited at the hands of pharmaceutical companies who profit off of their illness”



U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) (Screenshot/C-SPAN2)

LOS ANGELES – U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) joined the American Diabetes Association for a virtual discussion Thursday on efforts to lower the cost of insulin for the more than 3.2 million Californians diagnosed with diabetes.

During the conversation, Padilla advocated for the Affordable Insulin Now Act, which would require Medicare plans and private group or individual plans to cap patients’ out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $35 per month.

“No one should have to choose between putting food on the table or being able to afford life-saving medication,” said Senator Padilla. “For far too long, Americans diagnosed with diabetes have been exploited at the hands of pharmaceutical manufacturers who profit off of their illness. I am committed to making health care more affordable and lowering prescription drug costs, including lowering the cost of insulin for millions of Californians.”

“The risk to people with diabetes when they cannot afford to take the required amount of insulin to manage their diabetes is immense,” said Dr. Francine R. Kaufman Chief Medical Officer of Senseonics, Inc. “This means insulin must be within reach economically for all who need it to survive and thrive.”

“We hear about local Silicon Valley residents making the gut-wrenching choice between buying insulin, paying rent, or putting food on the table,” said Michele Lew, CEO of The Health Trust, a nonprofit in San Jose, CA. “We can – we must – fix this problem.”

“People living with diabetes who rely on insulin to live and thrive need Congress to act now to reduce insulin costs. This is especially true for the one in four insulin-dependent people forced to ration insulin doses as a result of the high cost to patients,” said Francisco Prieto, MD, Chair of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) National Advocacy Committee. “It’s time to bring economic relief to millions of Americans forced to stretch beyond their means every month to pay for their insulin. The ADA encourages the U.S. Senate to follow suit and approve legislation that includes the $35 national insulin co-pay cap.”

WATCH: Padilla speaking at virtual press conference with American Diabetes Association

Every year an estimated 272,814 people in California are diagnosed with diabetes. Californians with diagnosed diabetes spend an estimated $39.5 billion each year in insulin costs alone.

A downloadable recording of the virtual conference can be found here.



Newsom proposes modernizing state’s behavioral health system

Newsom proposed a 2024 ballot initiative to improve how California treats mental illness, substance abuse, and homelessness



Gov. Newsom speaking on a proposed 2024 ballot initiative in San Diego, March 18, 2023 (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SAN DIEGO – Governor Gavin Newsom, in partnership with state Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), has proposed the next step to modernize how California treats mental illness, substance use disorders, and homelessness. 

Governor Newsom proposed a 2024 ballot initiative to improve how California treats mental illness, substance abuse, and homelessness: A bond to build state-of-the-art mental health treatment residential settings in the community to house Californians with mental illness and substance use disorders and to create housing for homeless veterans, and modernize the Mental Health Services Act to require at least $1 billion every year for behavioral health housing and care,

An initiative would go on the 2024 ballot that would:

  1. Authorize a general obligation bond to:
    1. Build thousands of new community behavioral health beds in state-of-the-art residential settings to house Californians with mental illness and substance use disorders, which could serve over 10,000 people every year in residential-style settings that have on-site services – not in institutions of the past, but locations where people can truly heal. 
    2. Provide more funding specifically for housing for homeless veterans. 
  2. Amend the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), leading to at least $1 billion every year in local assistance for housing and residential services for people experiencing mental illness and substance use disorders, and allowing MHSA funds to serve people with substance use disorders.
  3. Include new accountability and oversight measures for counties to improve performance. 

The MHSA was originally passed 20 years ago; it is now time to refresh it so it can better meet the challenges we face. Key changes that the Governor is proposing include: Creating a permanent source of housing funding of $1 billion a year in local assistance funds to serve people with acute behavioral health issues, focusing on Full Service Partnerships for the most seriously ill; and allowing MHSA to be used for people with substance use disorders alone.

 “This is the next step in our transformation of how California addresses mental illness, substance use disorders, and homelessness – creating thousands of new beds, building more housing, expanding services, and more. People who are struggling with these issues, especially those who are on the streets or in other vulnerable conditions, will have more resources to get the help they need.”  

According to the Governor’s office, the Administration plans to work in close partnership with legislative leaders in this space including Senator Eggman and Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), as well as with the California State Association of Counties, other critical local government stakeholders, community-based service organizations, advocates, and people with lived experience as bill language is developed. 

Previous initiatives include:

  • $2.2 billion for the Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure Program.
  • $1.5 billion for Behavioral Health Bridge Housing.
  • $1.4 billion to expand and diversify the behavioral health workforce.
  • $4.7 billion Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health, of which the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative is the central component.
  • $1.4 billion to build out a Medi-Cal benefit for mobile crisis response, as well as $38 million to expand 9-8-8 and CalHOPE crisis call center.
  • Over $600 million to support community-based alternatives to state hospitalization for those who commit felonies who are incompetent to stand trial.
  • Over $1 billion to address the opioid epidemic.
  • $7 billion to reform CalAIM – enhanced care management for people with serious mental illness, a no wrong door approach to care, and more. 
  • $1.6 billion proposed to implement the California Behavioral Health Community-Based Continuum Demonstration to strengthen services and supports for those who are at risk of homelessness, incarceration and foster care placements.
  • $50 million for the California Veterans Health Initiative (CVHI) for veteran suicide prevention and mental health.
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Governor Newsom announces $30 insulin through CalRx



Governor Gavin Newsom (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

DOWNEY, CA – Governor Gavin Newsom, as part of his tour of the State of California, announced that CalRx has secured a contract with a manufacturer (CIVICA), to make $30 insulin available to all who need it. The Governor also announced Saturday that California will seek to manufacture its own Naloxone.

Today’s announcement makes good on Governor Newsom’s promise on his first day in office, to bring down the price of prescription drugs for Californians and increase accountability and transparency in health care. Californians can learn more about CalRX on the newly launched website.

Newsom’s action will bring down the price of insulin by about 90%, saving cash-paying patients between $2,000 and $4,000 annually. With CalRx, and unlike private companies, we’re getting at the underlying cost – the price is the price, and CalRx will prevent the egregious cost-shifting that happens in traditional pharmaceutical price games. It’ll cost us $30 to manufacture and distribute, and that’s how much the consumer can buy it for. You don’t need a voucher or coupon to access this price, and it’s available to everybody regardless of insurance plan. This is a crucial step in not just cutting the cost for the consumer, but cutting costs across the board in order to bring cheaper prescription drugs to all Californians.

Photo Credit: Office of the Governor

“To address the affordability crisis in California, we have to address the high cost of prescription drugs,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency. “The CalRx Biosimilar Insulin Initiative will benefit Californians who are today paying too much for a medication that we know is life saving and life altering.”


  • A 10mL vial will be made available for no more than $30 (normally $300)
  • A box of 5 pre-filled 3mL pens will be made available for no more than $55 (normally more than $500)
  • No new prescription will be needed. Californians will be able to ask for the CalRx generic at their local pharmacy or via mail order pharmacies. Pharmacies must agree to order/stock the product.
  • CalRx plans to make biosimilar insulins available for: Glargine, Aspart, and Lispro (expected to be interchangeable with Lantus, Humalog, and Novolog respectively)
  • California signed a contract with CIVICA to manufacture affordable insulin 
  • The Governor will seek to manufacture Naloxone through CalRx
Governor Gavin Newsom makes his announcement on California signing a contract with CIVICA to manufacture affordable insulin. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

“People should not be forced to go into debt to get life saving prescriptions. Through CalRx, Californians will have access to some of the most inexpensive insulin available, helping them save thousands each year. But we’re not stopping there – California will seek to make our own Naloxone as part of our plan to fight the fentanyl crisis,” said Newsom.


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Newsom announces $1 Billion in homelessness funding

Additionally, the Governor today announced the state’s largest mobilization of small homes to serve people experiencing homelessness



Newsom speaks about the launch of the new homelessness program (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – On Thursday in Sacramento, Governor Gavin Newsom joined state and local leaders, First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, advocates and other partners to announce the release of $1 billion in Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) Round 4 funding to support communities across the state stepping up their work to reduce homelessness.

Last year, Governor Newsom paused this funding to local governments and demanded greater ambition when they collectively proposed only a 2 percent reduction in unsheltered homelessness. Local governments have since revised their homelessness plans, now targeting a 15 percent reduction in homelessness statewide by 2025.

Additionally, the Governor today announced the state’s largest mobilization of small homes to serve people experiencing homelessness, especially those living in encampments. The California National Guard will assist in the preparation and delivery of 1,200 small homes to Los Angeles, San Diego County, San Jose and Sacramento, free of charge and ready for occupancy. 

“In California, we are using every tool in our toolbox – including the largest-ever deployment of small homes in the state – to move people off the streets and into housing. The crisis of homelessness will never be solved without first solving the crisis of housing – the two issues are inextricably linked. We are tackling this issue at the root of the problem by addressing the need to create more housing, faster in California,” the governor said.

Newsom is challenging the status quo and implementing new approaches to solve the dual crises of housing and homelessness, with a focus on greater accountability. Small homes are cost-effective and can be quickly deployed to move people from homeless encampments into housing.

  • After meeting with the Governor late last year, local jurisdictions have set new, more ambitious homelessness reduction goals and may now access $1 billion through round four of state grant program
  • State is delivering 1,200 small homes to Los Angeles, San Diego County, San Jose and Sacramento to provide safe, interim housing for people experiencing homelessness
  • Those living in encampments will be prioritized for these new units by the local governments operating the homes and providing services

Locations for placement of these small homes will be the responsibility of local jurisdictions. However, when needed and when available, the state will provide surplus land to use as an option for small homes. Local governments will own the units and provide all services, including recruiting residents, leveraging previously provided state funding. The following communities are set to receive small homes:

Los Angeles: 500 units
Sacramento: 350 units
San Jose: 200 units
San Diego County: 150 units

“Thank you to Governor Gavin Newsom for being innovative in his approach and a great partner in this effort. No one body of government will solve homelessness alone, and it will take local, state, and federal partnerships to ensure that we are collectively addressing this humanitarian crisis,” said Supervisor Nora Vargas, Chairwoman of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “These small homes are one important step to solving a bigger problem and will provide shelter and access to resources for our unhoused residents in San Diego County. Our Board is committed to prioritizing transformative policies to ensure our families, children, veterans, and seniors experiencing homelessness have a roof over their heads.”

“All different types of housing — small homes, motels, hotels, and more — are needed to urgently confront this crisis,” said Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass. “This housing will help us bring more people inside, which is what our city needs right now. Thank you Governor Newsom for locking arms with Los Angeles.”

(Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

“The magnitude of the homelessness crisis in California requires a coordinated response by all levels of government, and I commend Governor Newsom’s ongoing commitment to partnering with cities and counties,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “The addition of these small homes will get us one step closer to having the supply of emergency housing actually required to humanely clean up our streets.”

“We have a moral obligation to take urgent action to reduce the human suffering on our streets,” said San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan. “This mass mobilization of small homes accelerates the innovative approaches needed to solve our state’s homelessness crisis. As Mayor of San Jose, I am challenging our city to move 1,000 unsheltered neighbors out of unmanaged encampments and into safer alternatives by the end of this calendar year. This initiative will help us get there.”

The addition of small homes is another tool the state is using to create more housing, faster in California. Since taking office, Governor Newsom has signed over 70 bills to kick-start and streamline the building process, including 20 CEQA reform measures.

Along with an unprecedented $15.3 billion investment, Governor Newsom has demanded more accountability at the local level when it comes to addressing housing and homelessness. The Administration has focused on working with local jurisdictions to meet their housing requirements, clean up encampments and get more vulnerable Californians off the streets and into housing.

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Bill to protect Trans youth privacy passes Judiciary Committee

Assembly Bill 223, the Transgender Youth Privacy Act, calls to seal any petition for a change of gender or sex identifier filed by a minor



State Capitol Building (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Assembly Bill 223, the Transgender Youth Privacy Act, which calls to seal any petition for a change of gender or sex identifier filed by a minor passed out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee on a bipartisan vote Tuesday.

The bill now heads to the Assembly floor for consideration.

Transgender and gender non-conforming adolescents are more likely to develop depression and other mental health conditions, according to research by the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation.

Researchers found the youth that participated in the study reported a higher prevalence of anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and self-inflicted injuries than their peers who identified as the gender they were assigned at birth.

Assemblymember Christopher M. Ward (D-San Diego), who represents the 78th Assembly District, which includes the cities of Coronado, Del Mar, Imperial Beach, and San Diego introduced AB 223.

“The Transgender Youth Privacy Act is focused to ensure that those documents are sealed from general public discovery as many of our documents have become digitized and are too easily accessible to those who would do these youth harm,” said Ward . “AB 223 is about protecting youth from being bullied so they can navigate their daily lives as themselves.”

Under existing law, parent authorization is required for changing vital records for those under 18 years of age unless a court has emancipated them. AB 223 does not change the petition process, but it helps prevent online discovery of documents leading to “outing” and harassment. The bill would require any petition for a change of gender or sex identifier filed by a minor to be sealed to protect their privacy.

As a parent of a trans child, I appreciate just what this bill means not just to trans kids like mine, but to other parents of trans kids,” said Clarice Estrada Barrelet with the SoCal Family Law Group. “We submitted these petitions on behalf of our minor children who likely celebrated like we did when the petition was granted. And while the parents may be advocates like me, our kids did not ask to be advocates; they just want to be their true selves. And they have a reasonable expectation that this be private.”

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Equality California announces initial 2023 legislative package

Create safe environments for LGBTQ+ youth, protect gender-affirming care, improve access to PrEP & protect marriage equality



California State Flag (Los Angeles Blade file photo)

SACRAMENTO — Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, announced its initial 11 sponsored bills, including one constitutional amendment for the 2023 legislative year.

“The LGBTQ+ community is facing an onslaught of attacks by far-right extremists across the country with attempts to roll back civil rights that our community has fought tirelessly to achieve,” said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang. “Here in California, we are standing up against hate and will continue leading the way to ensure LGBTQ+ Californians are protected, healthy, and can build a future that represents their values with a community that accepts and supports them. We are not allowing the ongoing attacks to set us back today — or ever.”

Equality California is sponsoring the following bills:

ACA 5 (Assemblymember Evan Low): Protecting Marriage Equality

ACA 5 is a constitutional amendment to protect marriage equality for LGBTQ+ couples with the intent to remove Proposition 8 from the state’s constitution. In 2008, Proposition 8 declared “only marriage between a man and a woman” as valid or recognized in California. If approved by the Legislature, the measure will appear before voters in the 2024 general election. Read EQ Calif. statement

AB 5 (Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur): Safe and Supportive Schools Program

AB 5 will specify the timeline for implementation of LGBTQ+ cultural competency training for California teachers and school staff currently under development by the Department of Education. The bill will provide teachers and staff with the tools and training they need to support LGBTQ+ students and make California schools safer and more supportive for all students.

AB 783 (Assemblymember Phil Ting): All-Gender Restroom Compliance

Building on landmark legislation that required single-user restrooms to be designated as all-gender, AB 783 will improve compliance with existing law by requiring cities to notify all business license applicants that single-user restrooms in any business, place of public accommodation, or government agency must be identified as all-gender restrooms.

AB 957 (Assemblywoman Lori D. Wilson): Affirming Gender Identity

AB 957 will update California law to clarify that affirming a child’s gender identity is in the best interests of the child for purposes of legal name change and child custody decisions.

AB 1432 (Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo): Insurance Coverage for Abortion and Gender-Affirming Care

While states across the country are banning and even criminalizing abortion and gender-affirming care, AB 1432 will close loopholes in existing law to ensure that health insurance policies provided to Californians by out-of-state employers with out-of-state insurance contracts include coverage for abortion and gender-affirming care.

AB 1645 (Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur): Protecting Access to Preventive Care

In the wake of a Texas lawsuit targeting health insurance coverage for PrEP and other preventive services, AB 1645 will close loopholes and strengthen protections in existing law to ensure that California health insurers continue to provide free and complete coverage for preventive services like PrEP and STI testing.

SB 36 (Senator Nancy Skinner): Safe Haven for Abortion and Gender-Affirming Care

SB 36 will strengthen California’s “safe haven” laws by making it illegal for bail agents or bounty hunters to apprehend people who have left another state to avoid criminal prosecution related to abortion or gender-affirming care. The bill will also ensure that public benefits are not denied to people who need to flee to California to access abortion or gender-affirming care.

SB 339 (Senator Scott Wiener): Improving PrEP Access at Pharmacies

Building on first-in-the-nation legislation that authorized pharmacists to furnish PrEP without a doctor’s prescription, SB 339 will improve the ability of pharmacists to provide PrEP by increasing the amount of PrEP that pharmacists are authorized to provide without a doctor’s prescription and requiring health plans to reimburse pharmacists for PrEP services.

SB 407 (Senator Scott Wiener): LGBTQ+ Foster Youth Protections

SB 407 has the intent to strengthen protections in existing law to ensure that LGBTQ+ foster youth in California are placed in homes that are affirming of LGBTQ+ identities. Youth who identify as LGBTQ+ are overrepresented in foster care, with multiple studies estimating about 30 percent of youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ+.

SB 729 (Senator Caroline Menjivar): Insurance Coverage for Fertility Care

SB 729 will require health plans to provide coverage for fertility care, including treatment for infertility and in vitro fertilization, and ensure that LGBTQ+ people are not excluded from coverage and can build a family without the fear of cost.

SB 760 (Senator Josh Newman): All-Gender Restrooms for K-12 Students

SB 760 is first-of-its-kind legislation to require all K-12 schools in California to provide at least one accessible all-gender restroom for students to use safely and comfortably during school hours.

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Newsom: SoCal city’s Pride flag ban “rank,” Walsh: a hate symbol

Newsom weighs in on decision by Huntington Beach City Council MAGA majority ban on LGBTQ Pride Flag- far right host says flag is a hate symbol



Governor Gavin Newsom (Screenshot/YouTube)

SACRAMENTO – During a press conference Thursday that announced the filing of a lawsuit and a motion for preliminary injunction against the City of Huntington Beach for violating state housing laws, during the question and answer period, Governor Gavin Newsom in response to the Blade’s question, ripped Huntington Beach over another decision to ban the LGBTQ Pride Flag.

“What a disgrace to take down the Pride Flag,” Newsom said. The Governor then went on to lament the reversal of progressive gains over the past several decades. He then called the actions by the city council “jaw dropping.” He then noted, [the decision to ban the flag] “whether it is legal or not it’s wrong and it’s shameful- these attacks, these assaults on the LGBTQ community.”

Newsom then stressed that [Californians] ” we have an obligation to call out the city council, call out that action- disgraceful, insulting, we are better than that. This state stands firmly behind the LGBTQ community and will continue to fight against homophobia and this kind of discrimination and just rank, rank, performative politics.”

A local Orange County political activist tweeted the governor’s answer to the Blade’s question:

On Thursday morning during his regular radio show on far-right extremist media outlet The Daily Wire, anti-LGBTQ+ host Matt Walsh told his viewers that the LGBTQ+ Pride flag is a hate symbol.

The Daily Wire, anti-LGBTQ+ host Matt Walsh (Screenshot/YouTube)

“We should treat it as a hate symbol because that’s what it is. They fly the flag, that flag, because they hate you and your values and what you believe and everything you stand for,” Walsh said.

From the March 9, 2023, edition of The Daily Wire’s The Matt Walsh Show


MATT WALSH (HOST): Let’s just put this plainly. The Pride flag does not deserve our respect.

In fact, it deserves our disrespect. It deserves our contempt and mockery. It is not the flag of gay people. Okay? That’s not what it is. Gay people in America, they already have a flag. It’s called the American flag. It’s the flag we all share or are supposed to share.

The Pride flag, which was invented by a far-left activist drag queen, represents not a person or a people or a community, but an agenda, a political and cultural agenda. It always has. It has from the very beginning. It still does now. And today, nearly all of the most depraved and perverse attacks on children, on tradition, on decency, on common sense are waged under this banner. That’s what it signifies. Okay?

The gay pride flag signifies drag queens dancing for toddlers, males invading women’s bathrooms. It signifies castration drugs given to children. It signifies the destruction of the nuclear family. When government officials send that thing up the flagpole or paint its ridiculous colors in the street, that is what they’re promoting. It’s what they’re advertising. It is the cause they want us to salute.

Not only should we should we refuse to salute it, but we should treat it with disdain. We should treat it as a hate symbol because that’s what it is. They fly the flag, that flag, because they hate you and your values and what you believe and everything you stand for.

And so we should respond in kind to this symbol. In other words, we should give the Pride flag all of the respect that the left shows the American flag. Let’s just put it that way.

On Tuesday, March 7,  State Senator Dave Min issued the following statement regarding the Pride Flag ban in Huntington Beach:

“Tonight, the Huntington Beach City Council will have one final opportunity to vote in support of flying the LGBTQ+ Pride Flag on city properties from City Hall to the world famous Huntington Beach pier. The Pride Flag is not only a statement of our values of diversity and inclusion, it is a powerful symbol that Surf City is a place that welcomes everyone.

The Pride Flag’s removal sends the wrong message to our residents and to the millions of tourists who visit each year. Its removal validates the rise in anti-LGBTQ+ hate that has become all too common in Orange County in recent years. Not only is this the wrong, it is an irresponsible move for Huntington Beach taxpayers given the swift economic fallout from companies seeking to do business in Surf City.

As a representative of Huntington Beach and 1.1 million Californians in the State Senate, I urge the City Council not to divide our communities when we have a responsibility to ensure everyone feels safe and valued.”

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Calif. stops renewal of contract with Walgreens over abortion pill

Walgreens will lose about $54 million as a result of Newsom ordering withdrawal of a planned renewal of contract on May 1, 2023



Walgreens store near San Diego, Calif. March 7, 2023 (Screenshot/YouTube CBS 8 San Diego)

SACRAMENTO – California is pulling back its renewal of a multi-million dollar contract with Walgreens, following the company’s preemptive decision not to dispense the abortion medication Mifepristone in 21 states, including states where abortion remains legal.

On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted calling for the review of all contracts between the State and Walgreens and today’s announcement is a result of that ongoing review.

“California will not stand by as corporations cave to extremists and cut off critical access to reproductive care and freedom,” said Newsom. “California is on track to be the fourth largest economy in the world and we will leverage our market power to defend the right to choose.”

The contract between the California Department of General Services (DGS) and Walgreens allows the State to procure specialty pharmacy prescription drugs, primarily used by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and its correctional health care system.

Today, at Governor Newsom’s directive, DGS gave formal notice that it is withdrawing a planned renewal of that agreement set to take effect on May 1, 2023, and instead will explore other options for furnishing the same services. Under this contract, Walgreens has received about $54 million from the State.

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Bill requiring Gender-neutral restrooms for K-12 schools introduced

Survey data shows that 45% of LGBTQ+ actively avoid using gender-segregated school bathrooms because it makes them feel unsafe



Los Angeles Blade graphic/photo montage

SACRAMENTO — The Chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Senator Josh Newman introduced SB 760 last week, which requires all K-12 schools in California to provide appropriate and equitable access to all-gender restrooms for students to use during school hours.

“Schools should provide a safe and inclusive environment for all students, one where they’re able to focus on learning and where they’re encouraged to thrive academically, socially and emotionally,” said Newman (D-Fullerton). “Let’s face it— at some point during a typical 8-hour school day, everyone is going to have to go. By requiring all California K-12 schools to provide gender-inclusive restroom facilities on campus, we’ll ensure the well-being of our LGBTQ+ and non-binary students and ensure safer school communities for everyone.”

Under current law, although California schools must grant students access to restroom facilities consistent with their gender, schools are not explicitly required to provide gender-neutral restrooms. As a consequence, the frequent lack of easily accessed, explicitly gender-neutral restrooms at schools across the state remains problematic for students who do not identify with the traditional binary genders.

Survey data shows that 45% of LGBTQ+ and non-binary students actively avoid using gender-segregated school bathrooms because it makes them feel unsafe or uncomfortable. The lack of unstigmatized access to facilities appropriate to a student’s gender identity can cause not only emotional stress but physical harm as well, in the form of dehydration, urinary tract infections, or other health problems, not to mention the academic harm in the form of truancy and diminished grades on the part of students who miss or avoid school in response to those stresses.

“While states across the country are passing discriminatory policies attacking LGBTQ+ students, especially trans and non-binary youth, California is doubling down to ensure that schools are safe for all students to succeed,” said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang, a co-sponsor of SB 760. “SB 760 will ensure that students have access to an all-gender restroom without fear of harassment. We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Newman and Superintendent Thurmond in championing this first-of-its-kind legislation to create a safe and supportive environment for all students.”

In response to growing concerns that some students are not able to safely access restrooms at schools, the California Department of Education (CDE) established the Safe School Bathrooms Ad Hoc Committee in November of 2021, comprised of California students, parents, school employees, CDE staff, and other key stakeholders.

 “Schools should be a welcoming, safe place for all students – this includes access to bathrooms,” said California State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, a co-sponsor of SB 760. “We’ve heard from our LGBTQ+ youth and through their leadership in conjunction with the work of our Safe School Bathroom committee, and we are pleased to sponsor this bill which will have California lead the nation by providing adequate access to gender-inclusive bathrooms on all campuses.”

Under SB 760, all K-12 schools statewide will be required to provide accessible all-gender bathrooms for students to use safely and comfortably. Specifically, SB 760 mandates that there be a sufficient number of all-gender restrooms to accommodate all students who want to use them and that these restrooms remain unlocked during school hours.

“From seventh through ninth grade, I avoided using the bathroom at my school. Though I had not yet come out as transgender––even to my family–– I was uncomfortable using either the male or female restrooms. The only all-gender restroom at my school was exclusively for teachers, was kept locked, and was located behind the desks of administrative staff. To use that rest room I would have had to come out as transgender to the faculty—something I was not ready to do,” said Sam S., high school student, and a member of the Superintendent’s Safe School Bathroom Ad Hoc Committee. “LGBTQ youth often face bullying in school, and the lack of accessible all-gender restrooms makes school overtly unwelcoming, leading to increased rates of dropout, homelessness, and suicide. All California students deserve to access education with dignity.”

Some cities and school districts across the United States have added gender-neutral bathrooms, however, Newman’s bill would make California the first to require it in schools statewide.

“Gender neutral restrooms are essential to show support for LGBTQ and non-binary youth,” said Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), coauthor of SB 760. “Every child and adolescent should have access to a bathroom that comports with their gender identity, and for some young people that means bathrooms that don’t force them to into a binary choice. This bill is a much needed step to promote inclusion in our schools.”

“Research across all domains of student wellbeing shows us that students – particularly queer and transgender students – having free use of a safe and accessible gender-inclusive restroom on their campus has a positive impact. Too often, students do not have access to inclusive facilities. These students suffer not only mental health risks, including depression, anxiety, lower grades, and increased suicidality, but also physical health risks, including chronic urinary tract infections, bladder infections, and more from avoiding restrooms. California can pave the way for protecting all students, particularly the LGBTQ+ community, and their fundamental right to privacy, safety, and access to inclusive restrooms,” said Benjamin K., post-graduate student, and member of the Superintendent’s Safe School Bathroom Ad Hoc Committee.

SB 760 is also co-authored by Senator Caroline Menjivar, Assemblymember Corey Jackson and Assemblymember Evan Low. If the bill is approved by committees throughout this legislative session, it will head to the Governor Newsom’s desk by the end of the summer.

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Bill to reduce recidivism by providing therapy in prisons introduced

Will ensure mental health therapy to all incarcerated people, regardless of security level, sentence length, or mental health classification



California Medical Facility and California State Prison, Solano (Photo Credit: California Department of Corrections)

SACRAMENTO – Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced SB 513, the Reducing Recidivism Through Therapy Act. SB 513 would help rehabilitate California’s incarcerated population and reduce California’s high recidivism rate by providing access to therapy to all incarcerated Californians, regardless of security level, sentence length, or mental health disorder classification.

Currently, a large majority of California state prison inmates have no access at all even to the most minimal mental health treatment. As a result, rehabilitation is more difficult, and recidivism is more likely. SB 513, by providing therapy services to inmates, will help prepare them for release.

There are approximately 97,000 people incarcerated in California’s prisons. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) currently provides therapy to only the most severe cases of mental illness – those assigned to one of four classifications:

1.    Core Clinical Case Management System (Triple-CMS): the lowest classification level. Patients are supposed to receive therapy at least once every 90 days.

2.    Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP): the highest level of outpatient mental care. Patients whose symptoms impact their ability to function and live in separate housing.

3.    Mental Health Crisis Bed (MHCB): patients who are in acute psychiatric distress and typically stay for less than 10 days when deemed a danger to themselves or others.

4.    Psychiatric Inpatient Programs (PIP): patients who need acute or immediate care and are often experiencing suicidal ideation.

Currently, around 30,000 incarcerated people fall into one of these classifications. Though they technically have access to therapy,  their sessions are often as short as 15 minutes, and they are often cycled through different therapists sporadically. These constraints make it impossible for them to build rapport with their therapist and establish consistency – both key to the success of any mental health treatment program.

The other 67,000 incarcerated Californians who are not classified have no access to any mental health care at all. 

Experts have concluded that these numbers do not reflect the true need for mental health treatment among incarcerated people. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), about 3 in 5 people (63%) with a history of mental illness do not receive mental health treatment while incarcerated in state and federal prisons. In 2013, the California Journal of Politics and Policy found that of the majority of incarcerated persons with mental health or substance use issues, less than 10% receive treatment.

In addition, the experience of incarceration is itself often traumatic enough to warrant mental health treatment. The Prison Policy Initiative found that people’s experiences in jails and prisons correlate to the development of adverse mental health effects.

(Photo Credit: California Department of Corrections)

California pays the price for this lack of treatment in its recidivism rate, which is among the highest in the country. According to the California State Auditor, it has averaged at around 50% over the past ten years. Research shows that programs and services provided within prisons can reduce recidivism by helping change incarcerated people’s behavior.

SB 513 will ensure that mental health therapy is accessible to all incarcerated people, regardless of security level, sentence length, or mental health classification.

It requires CDCR to increase virtual or in-person therapy opportunities to all incarcerated people, to the greatest extent possible. The bill redefines “mental health therapy” as 50-minute sessions offered up to two times per month by a psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed social worker, or licensed therapist. The bill will also require CDCR to provide incarcerated people with a mental health appointment within two weeks of the patient requesting care and will ensure patients are seen on schedule and on time. 

“If we’re serious about reducing California’s abominable recidivism rate, we have to do something about the mental health crisis in our prisons,” said Senator Wiener. “Incarcerated persons need to be rehabilitated, but our outdated system for classifying mental health need is providing poor care to some and no care to tens of thousands of others. Providing access to therapy for all prisoners, regardless of classification, security level, or sentence length is a compassionate step that will improve public safety.”

SB 513 is sponsored by the Anti-Recidivism Coalition.

“Mental health care should be available to everyone seeking it— especially those navigating trauma and depression behind the walls of California’s prisons,” said Esteban Nunez, Chief Strategy Consultant, Anti-Recidivism Coalition. “Therapeutic care was a major factor in my rehabilitation; it provided me a space to process my traumas, better understand the harm I caused, and reenter society ready to move forward as an engaged member of my community. Unfortunately, most incarcerated Californians don’t have that opportunity. SB 513 is long overdue in ensuring that they do.”

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Calif. lawmakers introduce legislation to protect same-sex marriage

ACA 5 would bring a 2024 ballot initiative to voters to remove anti-same sex marriage language from the California constitution



State Capitol in Sacramento (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO — In an effort to combat anti-LGBTQ+ hate and protect marriage equality, Assemblymember Evan Low and Senator Scott Wiener introduced ACA 5 Tuesday. ACA 5 is a constitutional amendment intended to protect same sex-marriage with plans to remove Proposition 8’s (2008) discriminatory language from the state’s constitution that was approved by voters – Prop. 8 declared “only marriage between a man and a woman” as valid or recognized in California. 

“Californians believe in love, simply put. Repealing Proposition 8 is the right thing to do to ensure that marriage equality is protected now and for future generations,” said Low. “California leads the way in LGBTQ+ protections and cutting-edge pro-equality legislation and our constitution should reflect those values.” 

“Repealing Prop 8 is an essential step in protecting the freedom to marry for millions of LGBTQ Californians,” said Wiener. “This scar on our Constitution is unconscionable, and it needs to be removed, especially with extremist Supreme Court Justices threatening to overturn marriage equality. It’s time to send this issue to California voters to right this wrong.”

Although marriage equality is currently protected by Judge Vaughn Walker’s 2010 ruling striking down Prop. 8 and the 2015 Supreme Court decision in Obergefell, it has become increasingly clear that The Supreme Court cannot be trusted to protect our civil rights and liberties. If the Court was willing to overturn five decades of precedent guaranteeing the right to abortion (as they did with the Dobbs decision last year), it cannot be assumed it will uphold less than a decade of precedence protecting marriage equality, particularly in light of statements made by Justices Thomas and Alito referring to Obergefell as a “problem” and “threat.”

The recent passage of the Respect for Marriage Act was an important step forward — it requires the federal government to recognize same-sex and interracial marriages and affirms that states must recognize valid marriage licenses from other states –but it does not require states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. 

Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statement today regarding the constitutional amendment:

“Nearly 20 years after celebrating the historic ‘Winter of Love’ in San Francisco, we must remain vigilant to protect our values of equality, freedom and acceptance from the forces of hate that seek to undo our progress.   

“Same-sex marriage is the law of the land and Prop. 8 has no place in our constitution. It’s time that our laws affirm marriage equality regardless of who you are or who you love. California stands with the LGBTQ+ community and their right to live freely.”  

“Today, on Valentine’s Day, we are reminded that marriage is about love, commitment, and family. Same-sex families should have certainty and the freedom to live without fear that their marriage could be taken from them,” said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang. “The overwhelming majority of Californians — 71%, an all-time high which includes people from across the political spectrum — support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. Equality California is committed to continue addressing the pressing issues facing the LGBTQ+ community, including the alarming increase of anti-LGBTQ+ attacks against the trans community while advancing this constitutional amendment.”

“While LGBTQ+ Californians enjoy some of the strongest legal protections in the country, vestiges of discrimination still linger in our Constitution and our culture. The repeal of Prop 8 is one critical step toward ensuring lived equality for all,” said Carlos Marquez III, Executive Director of ACLU California Action. “We look forward to working with our coalition partners, Asm. Low, members of the LGBTQ Legislative Caucus, and legislative leadership on this repeal effort as well as the other work ahead, which must include making additional investments particularly in our trans communities, who continue to experience violence, discrimination, and injustice.”

“The right to marry is fundamental. All couples deserve to know that their marriages are secure and recognized in the eyes of the law,” said Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson. “We are proud to support this effort to repeal Proposition 8, and we will do whatever it takes to ensure that marriage equality remains the law of the land in this country.  We also know that removing this hateful language from the state’s constitution will not end the ongoing deadly violence, legislative assaults and constant threats facing LGBTQ+ people across the country, especially our transgender community, and we look forward to continuing to fight for full equality for everyone in our community, without exception.”

“We are grateful to Assemblymember Low and Senator Wiener for taking this critical first step to remove this shameful endorsement of inequality from California’s Constitution,” said Imani Rupert-Gordon, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “Especially when LGBTQ+ people are under attack in so many states across the country, it is more essential than ever that California lead the way in affirming the equal dignity of every person, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, ability, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. Repealing Prop 8 is an important part of a much larger battle.”

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