California changes course, will not restrict state-funded travel to Nebraska
LINCOLN — After a shift this week in California law, Nebraska will not be on a restricted list for state-funded travel from the Golden State.
In July, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that Nebraska would be the 26th state to join the travel ban, alongside each of Nebraska’s neighbors, except Colorado. California said the 26 states have laws on the books discriminating against LGBTQ people.
Nebraska would have joined the list Oct. 1 due to the passage this spring of Legislative Bill 574, which restricts gender-affirming care for minors. That bill bans transition surgeries and authorizes the state chief medical officer, Dr. Timothy Tesmer, to craft rules and regulations involving the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.
“These laws pose significant risks for deepening the stigmatization and alienation of LGBTQ+ youth who are already subject to pervasive discrimination, bullying and hate crimes,” Bonta said at the time.
California Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, sponsored a measure to repeal the 2016 law restricting state-funded travel, stating it had an “unintended impact” of further isolating LGBTQ people in affected states and hampering research, business and engagement.
Atkins is the first openly LGBTQ person to lead the California Senate and previously led the California State Assembly.
“At a time when LGBTQ+ rights and protections are being rescinded, and the very words we use are being weaponized, putting understanding and kindness at the forefront is more important than ever,” Atkins said in a March 29 statement. “The goal here is to speak to people’s hearts and open minds.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Atkins’ measure Wednesday.
Big Ten Conference
Next year, the University of California, Los Angeles is set to join the Big Ten Conference alongside Nebraska and three other states that were on the prohibited list — Indiana, Iowa and Ohio.
With the change, UCLA faculty, staff or students could use state funds to travel to any of the previously banned states. So, too, could any California state agency, board or commission.
The University of Southern California, a private university, and UCLA will join the Big Ten on Aug. 2, 2024.
Atkins’ measure puts in place an outreach program to encourage LGBTQ acceptance and inclusivity. The bill states this could include a national or targeted media campaign.
“We will be the bridge to a more understanding and compassionate nation,” Atkins said in a Wednesday news release.