California will be the first state in the country to track violent deaths, including suicides and homicides, among members of the LGBTQ community, thanks to a new bill that comes into force on January 1, 2022.
House Bill 1094, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law on Thursday, will establish a three-year pilot program in six as yet unselected counties where coroners and medical examiners will receive cultural skills training on how to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity in all cases of violent death.
The goal is to better understand the disparities in the mortality rate of the LGBTQ community. Then, policies would be developed and resources concentrated, at the county level, to address disparities and help reduce preventable deaths.
Coroners and medical examiners are already collecting data on gender, age, ethnicity and race in violent deaths.
“Collecting this kind of data is essential to understand what is happening in our LGBTQ community, especially among young people, with regards to violent deaths, including homicides and suicides,” the Assembly member Dr Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), one of the sponsors of the bill, said in a statement. “Once we have this information, we can direct resources to programs that can prevent these deaths.
“I also hope that this new law will be a model for other states to follow,” Arambula said.
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State Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) is the other co-author.
The number of LGBTQ youth who commit suicide or die in other violent deaths remains unknown due to lack of large-scale data on sexual orientation and gender identity collected in the United States
However, suicide is the second cause of death among young people aged 10 to 24 across the country – and depending on the CDC, LGBTQ youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual / cisgender peers.
The Trevor project 2021 National LGBTQ Youth Mental Health Survey found that 42% of LGBTQ youth have seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and non-binary youth.
Project Trevor was one of the sponsors of the bill.
Amit Paley, CEO and Executive Director of the nonprofit group, said: “There is a critical need to track cases of suicide, homicide and police brutality within the LGBTQ community, enabling us to better understand these crises, respond more effectively with solutions, and help prevent future tragedies.