Governor Signs Bill to Protect LGBT Students Against Discrimination at Private Universities

September 30, 2016

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1146 by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) to require private universities receiving public funds to publicly disclose if they discriminate against students on their gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Title IX exempt private universities receiving state funding in the form of Cal Grants will need to notify students and staff about their lack non-discrimination protections.

 

“No university should have a license to discriminate, especially those receiving state funds," said Senator Lara. "Those that do will now have to inform students and the public of their Title IX exemption. This law represents a critical first step in the ongoing efforts to protect students from discrimination for living their truths or loving openly.”​​

 

At the federal level, Title IX prohibits discrimination based on gender, including sexual orientation and gender identity, in education programs and activities that receive federal funding. However, if a university believes compliance with Title IX would conflict with its religion it may submit an exemption request to the U.S. Department of Education. The department has very little discretion and most requests are granted.

 

“The public needs to know which schools have licenses to discriminate against LGBT people and to ignore California’s civil rights protections,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, the sponsor of the legislation. “This law will give fair warning to students, staff and faculty members before they accept enrollment or employment at a university with a license to discriminate.”

 

Over the last three years there has been a significant increase in the number of universities that apply for and receive an exemption to Title IX. Only one school was granted an exemption in 2013. Today, some 43 schools nationally have received exemptions, with at least six of them in California. 

 

Currently, universities that have Title IX exemptions do not have to disclose them to students or staff. Many students are unaware of the exemption and what the potential consequences might be in the event their sexual orientation or gender identity does not align with the university’s discriminatory policies. Students and staff across the country have reported learning of an exemption only after being expelled from school or fired from their jobs.

 

“California has established strong protections for the LGBTQ community and private universities should not be able to use faith as an excuse to discriminate,” added Lara.

 

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Senator Ricardo Lara was elected in 2012 to represent the 33rd Senate District, which includes the cities and communities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Lakewood, Long Beach, Lynwood, Maywood, Paramount, Signal Hill, South Gate, South Los Angeles, Vernon, and Walnut Park.