Youth Equality Act to Advance when Legislative Session Reconvenes

September 16, 2013 By Jesse Melgar

1175439_10153075373630394_181166397_nThe Youth Equality Act, authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, which would end a special sales and corporate tax exemption for youth groups that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or religious affiliation, will advance when the legislative session reconvenes in January.

“Let me be very clear, SB 323 is alive and well,” said Sen. Ricardo Lara. “As this is the first year to a two-year legislative session, we will be taking the next few months to work closely with all parties involved to address and refine this legislation. As session reconvenes in January, the passage of this bill will be my number one priority.”

Equality California’s executive director John O’Connor underscored the importance of  the bill and the organization’s commitment to ensuring its advancement:

“The Youth Equality Act represents a critical step in the journey toward full equality, especially ending exclusion for LGBT youth and adults in youth organizations. This bill has wide support and in June, made history by advancing out of the Senate by a historic two-thirds vote. However, there is still work to be done for smooth and effective implementation and that is why EQCA remains committed to working with Senator Lara to ensure this bill’s passage next year.”

In the last few weeks, conversations with youth organizations that have inclusive policies have prompted further analysis of the bill to ensure effective implementation.  While most youth organizations, including the Girl Scouts, 4-H, YMCA, YWCA, Young Explorers, Junior Achievers, Little League, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, already have explicit anti-discrimination policies, groups like Scouts for Equality are working with organizations that haven’t articulated a full anti-discrimination policy with respect to sexual orientation and gender identity. Scouts for Equality is collaborating with local scouting leaders to draft a proposed policy that would allow individual units to declare themselves open and affirming without running afoul of current National Scout policy.

“The Youth Equality Act has ignited necessary discussion and action around youth organizations and their anti-discrimination policies,” said Eric Andresen, who is working closely with Scouts for Equality. “The next few months will provide time to explore and draft model policies that organizations can implement once SB323 advances.”

Current California law prohibits discrimination based on a long list of protected classes, including sexual orientation, gender and gender identity.

The bill passed both the Assembly Tax and Revenue Committee and the Assembly Judiciary Committee with votes of 6-3. In June, the Youth Equality Act received a two-thirds vote in the Senate — the first time an LGBT bill received a two-thirds vote in the state’s history.

The bill has passed through the Assembly policy committees and is currently on the Assembly Floor. Session reconvenes January 2014.

For more information, contact Scouts for Equality at:


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