- Felicia Matlosz
SACRAMENTO – Governor Newsom on Thursday, September 16, signed Assembly Bill 1094, authored by
Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno). The legislation is known as the LGBTQ Violent Death Data Collection Pilot Program and is the first of its kind in the nation.
AB 1094 -- which received strong bipartisan support in the Assembly and State Senate -- was sponsored by The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people. In addition, State Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) was a co-author and other advocates strongly supported the legislation.
The bill – which will go into effect on January 1, 2022 – will equip coroners and medical examiners in six
participating counties in California with the training necessary to identify and collect data on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identify (SOGI) in cases of violent death, including homicide and suicide. This will provide California with much-needed data to track violent deaths among the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) community. As a result, resources will be allocated and policies would be developed to help reduce the number of these preventable deaths.
Assemblymember Arambula said: “I greatly appreciate Governor Newsom’s support for this bill because it is about saving lives. Collecting this type of data is critical to understanding what is happening in our LGBTQ community, especially among the youth, when it comes to violent deaths, including homicide and suicide. Once we have this information, we can direct resources to programs that can prevent these deaths. It also is my hope that this new law will be a model for other states to follow.
“We must do what we can to better serve all our communities with compassion and understanding.”
Earlier this month, when AB 1094 cleared the State Legislature and was sent to Governor Newsom’s desk, Amit Paley (he/him pronouns), CEO and Executive Director for the Trevor Project said this:
“The first of its kind in the nation, this bill marks an important milestone in the movement to protect and save LGBTQ lives. There is a critical need to track cases of suicide, homicide, and police brutality among the LGBTQ community, allowing us to better understand these crises, respond more effectively with solutions, and help prevent future tragedies. We thank all the sponsors and advocates for championing this historic bill in California and hope that decision-makers across the country take note of this pilot program to model it in their respective communities.”
The number of LGBTQ youth who actually die by suicide (or other violent deaths) remains unknown due to the lack of SOGI data collected on a broad scale in the U.S. However, suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth ages 10–24 nationwide. And, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), LGBTQ youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight/cisgender peers. The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that 42 percent of LGBTQ youthseriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.
According to polling conducted by The Trevor Project and Morning Consult, more than four in five adults (84%) feel it is important to include sexual orientation and gender identity when evaluating suicide and other violent death statistics, including 91% of Democrats, 80% of independents and 77% of Republicans.