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California has come out in strength against anti-trans laws across the country. Photo: Getty Images
California has come out in strength against anti-trans laws across the country. Photo: Getty Images

California bans state-funded travel to five states over anti-trans legislation

The announcement was made on Monday, June 28 by Attorney General Rob Bonta.

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California state Attorney General Rob Bonta announced on Monday, June 28 that state-funded travel to five new states will now be banned, over their “discriminatory” LGBTQ+ laws.

The new travel restrictions target Arkansas, Florida, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia over what the attorney general’s office called “dangerous” new laws that directly impact the freedom and well-being of transgender students. 

At a news conference on Monday, Bonta cited the importance of “aligning our dollars with our values.” 

He also expressed disappointment with some politicians that are choosing to “demonize” trans youth rather than tackle more pertinent issues like gun violence or economic recovery. 

These new travel restrictions mean that California has now banned state-funded travel to 17 states under Assembly Bill 1887

AB 1877 is a state law that restricts state agencies from requiring employees to travel to any state that has enacted a law that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The law does not apply to personal travel. 

On June 28, Bonta told reporters that the five new states added to the list are working to prevent transgender women and girls from playing on school sports teams that match their gender identity. 

Bonta described these efforts as a part of a growing movement to “limit the rights of LGBTQ Americans.” 

Despite the attorney general’s office saying the ban applies to all state-funded travel, there are exceptions. For instance, if travel is required to maintain grant funding or licensure, or for auditing and revenue collection purposes, the ban may not apply.

In a statement to CNN, the attorney general’s office said that “it’s ultimately up to each California agency, including universities, to make determinations about the steps they'll need to take to comply with AB 1887."

In the past, California has received pushback over its travel bans. 

Last year, after Oklahoma was added to the Golden State’s restricted travel list. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt responded by issuing an executive order that prohibited state employees from “all non-essential travel” to California. 

"California and its elected officials over the past few years have banned travel to the State of Oklahoma in an effort to politically threaten and intimidate Oklahomans for their personal values. Enough is enough," Stitt said at the time.

On Monday, LGBTQ rights advocates, including the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), celebrated Bonta’s announcement. 

Alphonso David, president of HRC, told CNN that the announcement shows that there will be “real world consequences” for the states that have been passing anti-trans laws. 

“The legislatures that have enacted these laws are choosing to trade away economic opportunities in order to target transgender young people based with no pretext," David said.

Advocacy groups have already labeled 2021 as a record-breaking year when it comes to the implementation of anti-LGBTQ legislation, with at least 23 states having introduced more than 100 bills that intend to limit the rights of transgender people. 

According to HRC data, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy groups, at least 117 bills have been introduced in the current legislative session that target the transgender community. This is the highest number recorded since the organization began tracking anti-LGBTQ legislation more than 15 years ago. 

"Make no mistake: We're in the midst of an unprecedented wave of bigotry and discrimination in this country," Bonta said Monday. "And the state of California is not going to support it."

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