California will be the first state in the nation to track violent deaths, including suicides and homicides, among members of the LGBTQ community, thanks to a new bill that goes into effect Jan. 1, 2022.
Assembly Bill 1094, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Thursday, will establish a three-year pilot program in six yet-to-be-selected counties where coroners and medical examiners will receive cultural competency training on how to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity in all cases of violent deaths.
The goal is to better understand disparities in the LGBTQ community’s mortality rate. Then, policies would be developed and resources focused, at the county level, to address the disparities and help reduce preventable deaths.
Coroners and medical examiners already collect data on gender, age, ethnicity, and race in violent deaths.
“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,” Assemblyman Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), one of the bill’s authors, said in a statement. “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,” Arambula said.
State Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) is the other co-author.
The number of LGBTQ youth who commit suicide, or die by other violent deaths, remains unknown due to the lack of sexual orientation and gender identity 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, LGBTQ youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual/cisgender peers.
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, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.
The Trevor Project was one of the bill’s sponsors.
Amit Paley, CEO and executive director for the nonprofit group, said: “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.”