California has long been one of the most liberal states in the country when it comes to rights for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transsexual. However, many of those rights only apply to people who are legally adults and 18 years of age or older.

The state of California recognizes and upholds a variety of rights for LGBT residents, such as the right to change gender, the right for same-sex couples to jointly adopt children, and the right for same-sex couples to get married or enter domestic partnerships.

Legal protection for LGBT minors, on the other hand, is limited to protection afforded to all children under the age of 18 with a few major exceptions.

California State Law Protects LGBT Minors

California’s Senate Bill 1172 was initially approved by governor Jerry Brown in Sept. 2012, and it provides LGBT minors with protection from:

  • Sexual orientation conversion therapy
    Conversion therapy is a controversial psychological treatment designed to influence and change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual. This practice was banned from being performed on LGBT minors in California with the passage and later upholding of SB 1172.
  • Counseling from church pastors
    On Aug. 23, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco upheld SB 1172’s ban on licensed counselors—which includes church pastors—from assisting or influencing minors with decisions regarding sexual preferences or attraction.
  • Placement in foster care that’s inconsistent with their gender identity
    Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 731 on Oct. 11, 2015, which protects transgender children who are placed into foster care. The bill took effect on Jan. 1, 2016, and extends the right to children to be placed into foster homes that are consistent with their gender identities, regardless of the sex or gender listed on their birth certificates.

SB 1172 states that “California has a compelling interest in protecting the physical and psychological well-being of minors, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, and in protecting its minors against exposure to serious harms caused by sexual orientation change efforts.”

LGBT Issues Enter the Classroom

In addition to passing a law that protects LGBT children from certain adult influences, California also approved a social studies curriculum in July 2016 that includes prominent LGBT figures and historical milestones that will be added to lesson plans for public school students throughout the state.