A bill to save LGBTQ lives introduced by Assemblyman Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) is headed to the California Senate.
The bill initiates a pilot project that trains coroners and medical examiners in six counties to identify and collect data on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity in cases of violent death.
“I deeply appreciate the overwhelming support that my Assembly colleagues gave today to AB 1094,” said Arambula in a statement released by his office. “This legislation may be centered on data, but its purpose encompasses compassion and empathy to better understand what is happening in our LGTBQ+ community — particularly among the youth — when it comes to violent deaths, including homicide and suicide. AB 1094 is an important and humane step in ultimately preventing these deaths.”
Info Isn’t Collected Nationwide
This information is needed because health officials don’t how many LGBTQ individuals die by suicide or homicide because the data isn’t collected nationwide.
What is known, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is that LGBTQ youth are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide than their straight and cisgender peers.
“This first-of-a-kind legislation would provide our nation’s most populous state with the data necessary to track the violent deaths among the LGBTQ community, allowing for the better deployment of resources and the development of more effective policy solutions to save young LGBTQ lives,” Sam Brinton, vice president of advocacy and government affairs for The Trevor Project, said in a news release.
“Thank you to Assemblymember Arambula for championing this historic bill, which we hope will lead California and states all across the country to adopt these much-needed practices long-term.”
Arambula’s legislation passed unanimously with bipartisan support on Wednesday.
Poll: 84% of US Adults Back the Bill’s Basics
According to recent polling by The Trevor Project and Morning Consult, 84% of adults say it is important to include sexual orientation and gender identity when evaluating suicide and other violent death statistics. The breakdown: 91% of Democrats, 80% of independents, and 77% of Republicans.
AB 1094 would create a three-year state Department of Public Health pilot program in as many as six counties. Participants would be trained in cultural competency and best practices on how to properly identify a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity before being required to do so — and the bill explicitly requires respect for confidentiality.
All personally identifiable information, including names, addresses, and dates of birth, would be removed before being reported.
Nationwide, suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth ages 10–24, according to the CDC. In addition, The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year.
The Trevor Project offers several 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs.