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Sexual Orientation Question Being Asked On Surveys To Improve State Services For LGBTQ Community

STOCKTON (CBS13) — Questions that some may view as sensitive and personal are now being asked on California State Department surveys.

The "what is your sexual orientation?" question is part of a law signed by Governor Jerry Brown that recently went into effect.

When it comes to poverty, hate crimes, and health, studies show there are disparities among same-sex couples. California lawmakers want to change that. The inquiries over a person's sexual orientation and their gender identity are part of the California LGBT disparities reduction act.  It's a new law that requires the data to be collected by four state departments including the Department of Aging and funded programs such as Meals on Wheels.

The list of questions now being asked to people around the state are the same questions Cymone Reyes of Stockton said she was too shy to answer several years ago.

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"As someone who understands the importance of being seen, you really shouldn't be insulted by those types of questions. If anything, answer them proudly," said Reyes. "I think the questions are probably a good thing for the LGBT community only because if we're not counted, how can we access the service? I mean, we need to have our voices counted and heard so that they know we're here."

Assemblymember David Chiu introduced the legislation. In a written statement he said, "in order to address the disparities and barriers that LGBT individual's face, they have to be identified first."

"It's extremely important for our community to fill out these surveys properly. It gets to the root of what our communities needs are and allows the state department to better understand how to service so if we're not counted, if we're not represented, we do not exist and our community get less funding," said Nicholas Hatten, San Joaquin Pride Center.

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Assemblymember Chiu said his office is working to make sure people know the questions are voluntary. He also says that not answering them will not affect the services offered to people.

Although the law collects important information to better serve the LGBT community, Chiu said a person's personal information like names or contact information will be kept confidential.

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