Now, the one-party state of California has a senate bill that will criminalize the use of “wrong” pronouns in the state’s long-term care facilities, as well as requiring identity documents from a resident who wants to use the opposite-sex bathroom, or prohibiting any sexual behavior among residents and visitors. Anyone found guilty of willfully or repeatedly violating any of these new rules will be charged with a misdemeanor.
On February 1, 2017, newly-elected state senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced SB 219: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Long-Term Care Facility Resident’s Bill of Rights, which will make it a crime for nursing homes to use the “wrong” gender.
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1439.50 (b): “Gender identity” means a person’s identity based on the individual’s stated gender identity, without regard to whether the self-identified gender accords with the individual’s physical appearance, surgical history, genitalia, legal sex, sex assigned at birth, or name and sex, as it appears in medical records, and without regard to any contrary statement by any other person, including a family member, conservator, or legal representative [….]To justify the need for this bill, Weiner quotes a survey of LGBT individuals from a 2011 study published by the National Senior Citizens Law Center which claims that 43% of those surveyed personally witnessed or experienced mistreatment of LGBT seniors. Wiener’s press release lists half a dozen discrimination stories from the study. One tells of a woman’s lesbian friend who lived in a skilled nursing facility where the staff continued to call her by her given name “Hazel,” and not by her preferred name “Rusty.” Another story told of a man who maintained that he wasn’t showered for weeks at a time because the facility aide “may or may not be ‘comfortable’ helping a gay man bathe.”
(e) “Long-term care facility” or “facility” has the same meaning as in Section 9701 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, and includes intermediate care facilities.(f) “Long-term care facility staff” or “facility staff” means all directors, medical personnel, administrators, employees, independent contractors, and others who provide services or care to residents of a long-term care facility on facility premises and on behalf of, or with the permission of , the facility [….]1439.51 (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), it shall be unlawful for a long-term care facility or facility staff to take any of the following actions wholly or partially on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status: […]
(3) Where rooms are assigned by gender, assign or refuse to assign a room to a transgender resident other than in accordance with the transgender resident’s gender identity, unless at the transgender resident’s request.(4) Involuntarily reassign a resident to a different room based on any person’s complaints or concerns about that resident’s gender identity or gender expression.(5) Prohibit a resident from using, or harass a resident who seeks to use or does use, a restroom available to other persons of the same gender identity, regardless of whether the resident is making a gender transition or appears to be gender-nonconforming. Harassment includes, but is not limited to, requiring a resident to show identity documents in order to gain entrance to a restroom available to other persons of the same gender identity.(6) Refuse to use a resident’s preferred name or pronoun, as indicated by the resident.(7) Deny a resident the right to wear or be dressed in clothing, accessories, or cosmetics that are permitted for any other resident.(8) Restrict a resident’s right to associate with other residents, including the right to sexual intimacy.(9) Deny a resident’s right to receive or restrict a resident’s right to associate with visitors of his or her choice, including the right to sexual intimacy.(c) Each facility shall post the following notice alongside its current nondiscrimination policy in all places and on all materials where that policy is posted:“[Name of facility] does not discriminate and does not permit discrimination, including, but not limited to, bullying, abuse, or harassment, on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or HIV status, or based on association with another individual on account of that individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or HIV status. You may file a complaint with the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman [provide contact information] if you believe that you have experienced this kind of discrimination.”
California Family Council points out that there is no exemption in SB 219 for facilities operated by religious organizations, and according to Wiener’s office, there are no plans to add one.
California Family Council’s President Jonathan Keller responded to the bill saying he believes everyone, no matter who they are, deserved to be treated with love, care, and respect. This is especially true for senior citizens. But he also believes the state has no right to force Christians and religious organizations to violate their faith. Keller said:
“No religious non-profit should face criminal prosecution for designating their bathrooms by biological gender. Nor should anyone be forced to use a pronoun for someone that violates that person’s strongly held religious belief that gender is not a preference, but a biological, medically observable, objective fact. The government should never trample the First Amendment free exercise rights of faith-based nursing homes and hospice facilities.”