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California Not Tracking LGBTQ+ Pandemic Data Despite Promise

Scott Wiener

State Sen. Scott Wiener says he's willing to take the issue to a national level if the state won't address it.

Gay California state Sen. Scott Wiener is growing more and more frustrated at the lack of results from a bill he sponsored that was meant to track COVID-19's effect on the LGBTQ+ population, according to Los Angeles Magazine.

LGBTQ+ and AIDS organizations have been asking for tracking data, as pandemics like this often hit LGBTQ+ communities harder than others. Senate Bill 932, created by Wiener and signed by into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September, requires health care providers to collect and report both sexual orientation and gender identity statistics for all communicable diseases. State officials had announced earlier that they would begin doing so voluntarily, and Wiener's legislation mandated it.

Newsom said when signing the bill into law that it "will help us better understand the impacts of COVID-19 on the LGBTQ+ community," but so far, it hasn't done that. Despite promises to track the disease in the community, no such information is available.

"The law has been in effect for about three months, and it just doesn't seem to be happening," Wiener told the magazine. "I've been tested for COVID several times, and I've never been asked my sexual orientation. It's not an acceptable state of affairs, and [the California Department of Public Health] needs to get this right."

"At some point, if we need to, we'll ask for an audit of the agency on this issue because it's extremely frustrating," he added. "There's a certain inertia in place because this data has historically not been collected. And so it requires a number of different changes and a lot of different players, in terms of health care providers. ... I never expected immediate perfection. And I understand we're drinking water from a fire hose. So we're just going to continue to work with them and push to make sure this happens. But we're in the middle of a pandemic, so it's very frustrating."

Wiener said he's considering sending a letter to the director of public health, and if that doesn't work, he will call upon the California LGBT Legislative Caucus to do something. He's also willing to take the issue to the national level through Xavier Becerra, the current California attorney general, who is President-elect Joe Biden's choice for secretary of Health and Human Services.

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