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New push to end California travel ban to states with anti-LGBTQ laws

This ban has now expanded to nearly half the country, at a time when a record number of laws targeting LGBTQ rights are being adopted.

SAN DIEGO — California's ban on state-funded travel to states with anti-LGBTQ laws may eventually be coming to an end.

This ban started when North Carolina banned transgender people in 2016 from using the bathroom matching their gender identity in public buildings.

When this ban first went into effect in California in 2017, it encompassed only a few states.

It has now expanded to 23 states, nearly half the country, at a time when more laws targeting LGBTQ rights are being adopted.

"We need to adjust our strategy," said Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, "because we know what we need to do, but we need to be able to be there to do it."

Atkins is proposing this new bill, called SB 447, which would end the travel ban and replace it with an advertising campaign in those 23 states. This campaign would aim to promote acceptance and inclusion for the LGBTQ community.

"I know from personal experience, growing up in a rural community where it is more conservative, that the way to change people's minds is to have impact and direct contact, and to open hearts and minds," added Atkins, who is lesbian.

Money for the ad campaign would come from private donations and possibly state funding.

"This hyper-polarization and this turning our backs on each other is not working," said Fernando Lopez, executive director of San Diego Pride

Lifting the current ban is critical. Lopez noted, in the face of more than than 450 pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation nationwide: a record number.  

"As these states increase the targeting of our community, it prohibits us from reaching out and building those bridges and making some inroads," Lopez told CBS 8. 

This ban has had an impact over the years.  Atkins said from prohibiting academics in the UC or Cal State systems from traveling to banned states to carry out research, to college sports teams from using state funds to travel to banned states. 

The NCAA is paying for the SDSU Aztecs travel to Texas for the Final Four this weekend.

Texas was added to the list in 2017, after the state approved a law that allows agencies to reject adoptions by LGBTQ couples based on religious reasons.  

"The University is not able to support their team going with university funding, so it has had an impact," Atkins said, adding that this new bill goes far beyond sports teams' traveling.  

"It's everything," she said. "It's about not being able to provide services to the very communities that need it the most."

WATCH RELATED: San Diego leaders declaring city safe for LGBTQ+  community 


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