By Yetnaleci Martinez and Jolie Rodriguez, Nov. 16, 2021

California Attorney General Rob Bonta added Ohio to the restricted state funded travel list in late September as a result of a recently passed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, affecting Cal Poly Pomona community members that are presented with professional and academic opportunities to travel to these locations.

California Assembly Bill 1887 restricts the use of state funds for travel to now 18 states. Arkansas, Montana, West Virginia, Florida and North Dakota were added earlier this year. A number of students in the California State University system are presented with opportunities for travel to states included in the ban, making university funds off limits to them.

Nicolas Hernandez | The Poly Post

The ASI SCUBA Dive Center has traveled across the country to Florida beaches in the past to complete its scuba diving certification courses.However, California added Florida to this list earlier this July, and the center’s most significant setback has been the cost of out-of-state certification trips.

ASI SCUBA Dive Center Coordinator Douglas Hayes explained in an email that the reason for traveling to Florida was to maximize their program’s efficiency. Each day in Florida would consist of three to six dives, whereas in California they would only be able to do two to four dives a day due to colder water temperatures.

Hayes compared how the cost of a three-day dive in Florida would be $120, plus hotel costs which average at $80 per night, versus a three-day dive in Hawaii, which would be at $180, plus hotel costs which average at $130 per night. This, apart from food and other expenses, makes a significant difference in price which decreases the number of student opportunities.

“It is unfortunate for us that it takes one of the places off our list, but we will abide by what they want us to do because we believe in the same principles,” said Hayes.

As sports teams begin to travel for national conferences and contests, the CPP Athletics Department is well informed of the list of travel ban states and begins fundraising early in the year.

Athletics Director Brian Swanson explained how NCAA conference locations are predetermined majority of the time, which allows for the Athletics Department to fundraise and plan accordingly. He also mentioned that the NCAA will contribute to a team’s travel expenses and flights will be booked through them, but that does not account for their entire trip.

“It is crucial for the Athletics Department to fundraise in advance, said Swanson. “North Carolina, we’ve had to go up there, track and field has been to Texas, we’ve had basketball in Ohio, so we run into this on a regular basis every couple years, and because it’s predetermined where these championships are sited and our teams have been successful if we want to compete at that national level, we have to go to those states for the time being.”

Mario Guerrero, chair of the Department of Political Science, addressed that the effectiveness of the legislation at the university level would be questionable because not a lot of travel takes place but, in any case, serves a purpose.

“You don’t want to spend state money supporting governments that have discriminatory laws on their books,” said Guerrero. “I understand the educational experiences especially for students in the CSU are few in part and you don’t want to have these educational barriers in place but at the same time LGBTQ+ discrimination is very real and these laws, if not effective they do make a statement.”

Ohio’s recent passing of legislation allowing medical providers to deny care for LGBTQ+ patients seeking medical attention determined its place on the list.

John Buchanan, interim director of the Pride Center, points out that the legislation keeps CSU communities safe by preventing students and faculty from traveling to places where their safety is compromised due to the laws that placed these states on California’s list of restricted travel. Buchanan further explained the legislation may not leverage enough change within these states to reevaluate their policies as many of these states with anti-LGBTQ+ laws in place do not feel that California travel directly impacts their overall functioning.

“Where it would have greater impact is with companies based in these 18 states not being able to utilize state funds. If we are not giving these large companies state-funded contracts that are based in these states, it’ll hit their bottom line, and then they will get involved to take action in their state, because the actions of the state are hurting their financial success,” said Buchanan.

While supporting the legislation’s advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community, Buchanan also advises continuing to push for change.

“Don’t become stagnant, and believe that California is a bubble,” said Buchanan. “There are still county laws and legislation that are discriminating against individuals against the LGBTQ+ community.”

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