California bill fights bigotry with ban

D'Angelo Jackson, Staff Writer

Assembly Bill 1887, which was passed by the California legislature this January in response to discriminatory laws in other states, may have an impact on some of the work- related travel plans of the faculty, students and staff.

The bill requires California take action to avoid supporting anyone funding discrimination against, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

It bans state-backed travel to any state that, after June 26, 2015, “enacted a law that has the effect of voiding or repealing existing state or local protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

Currently the states included in the ban are Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.

Some faculty asked if out-of-state travel financed through the federal Perkins Act is included in the ban.

Dean of Workforce & Economic Development, Natalie Hannum sent out an email regarding the matter earlier in the semester to staff to ensure they knew of the restrictions if they were planning any out-of-state travel. As a result, no campus groups or faculty are currently planning any trips that might be affected.

“There aren’t a whole lot of groups on campus who are going to be doing any out of state travel,” she stated. “Those that are don’t plan to travel to any of the states that are restricted.”

An outlier to this is an Los Medanos College student group that might be affected by the ban next year – The Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science.

“Though we haven’t started planning for it, the 2018 SACNAS Conference is currently slated to be in San Antonio, Texas,” Math Lab Coordinator and SACNAS co-advisor Julio Guerrero-Gonzalez said. “If we do decide to travel, we will have to abide by local and state laws. This means we would have to conform to Texas State Law which is in direct violation to AB 1887.”

So unless members are willing travel on their own dime next year, they cannot go.

The Texas law in question is Senate Bill 6 (TX SB6), which enforces civil penalties for transgender people using public bathrooms or changing facilities.

“The Board of Directors at SACNAS is meeting to address the issue and talk about moving the conference,” said SACNAS Adviser Nicole Trager.

“When similar discriminatory laws were put into place in Arizona they decided to not hold the conference in Arizona in solidarity for their attendees. However, they did not have one currently on the books with deposits,” she added.

Students and staff are still looking forward to attending the upcoming SACNAS conference in Salt Lake City this month, as Utah is not on the list of banned states. This is SACNAS’s third year taking students to their conference in October, and the law will not affect them until next year.

Professor Cindy McGrath, who is on the Board of Directors of the Journalism Association of Community Colleges, had considered attending The National College Media Association’s fall convention this month.

“I’ve been urged to check out the conference for years,” she said, “but have always had a scheduling conflict. This was the year it worked out.”

However, she explained the 2017 CMA convention, which has been planned for years, is in Texas, a prohibited state. Next year’s is in Louisville, Kentucky and is also off the table due to the ban.

“I’ll have to make a longer-range plan to attend the fall of 2019 when it is in Washington, D. C.,” she said.