SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed several bills Saturday aimed at bolstering the state’s protections for LGBTQ+ people, a day after issuing a controversial veto that was criticized by advocates.
The new laws include legislation that focuses on support for LGBTQ+ youth. One law sets timelines for required cultural competency training for public school teachers and staff, while another creates an advisory task force to determine the needs of LGBTQ+ students and help advance supportive initiatives. A third requires families to show that they can and are willing to meet the needs of a child in foster care regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“California is proud to have some of the most robust laws in the nation when it comes to protecting and supporting our LGBTQ+ community, and we’re committed to the ongoing work to create safer, more inclusive spaces for all Californians,” Newsom said in a statement. “These measures will help protect vulnerable youth, promote acceptance, and create more supportive environments in our schools and communities.”
The governor also signed legislation that requires schools serving first through 12th grade to have at least one gender-neutral bathroom available for students by 2026.
The law was spurred by a Southern California school district that instituted a policy requiring schools to tell parents when their children change their pronouns or use a bathroom of a gender other than the one listed on their official paperwork. A judge halted the policy after California Attorney General Rob Bonta sued the Chino Valley Unified School District. The lawsuit is ongoing.
The governor’s bill-signings came after Newsom vetoed a bill on Friday that would have required judges to consider whether a parent affirms their child’s gender identity when making custody and visitation decisions.
Assemblymember Lori Wilson, a Democrat who introduced the bill and has an adult son who came out as transgender when he was a teenager, was among the LGBTQ+ advocates who criticized the governor’s decision.
“I’ve been disheartened over the last few years as I watched the rising hate and heard the vitriol toward the trans community. My intent with this bill was to give them a voice, particularly in the family court system where a non-affirming parent could have a detrimental impact on the mental health and well-being of a child,” Wilson said in a statement.
Newsom said existing laws already require courts to consider health, safety and welfare when determining the best interests of a child in custody cases, including the parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity.
The veto comes amid intense political battles across the country over transgender rights, including efforts to impose bans on gender-affirming care, bar trans athletes from girls and women’s sports, and require schools to notify parents if their children ask to use different pronouns or changes their gender identity.