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National News Highlights — September 23, 2022

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom at a news conference — Photo by Eric Risberg / AP
California Gov. Gavin Newsom at a news conference — Photo by Eric Risberg / AP

California to give grants to Gay veterans
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Saturday last weekend that he has signed a new state law meant to help military service members who were discharged under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy to regain their eligibility for VA benefits.

"For decades, our bravest heroes, men and women who wore the uniforms of the armed services, had to hide who they really were," Newsom said in a statement, "and many were other-than-honorably discharged if their sexuality was discovered."

After the "Don't ask, Don't Tell" law was repealed in 2010, the Department of Defense did create procedures for veterans discharged under the policy to receive the full range of veterans' benefits.

"But many veterans sadly don't know or can't even access this important process," Newsom said, citing the expensive legal counsel required and other barriers. "We're taking steps to fix this."

The new law will require the California VA to create a grant program to help guide LGBTQ veterans who qualify through the process of regaining their benefits.

Virginia cracks down on names, pronouns in schools
Virginia's Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has rolled back certain accommodations for Trans students, restricting access to locker rooms, bathrooms, and school programming based on biological sex, with exceptions only as required by federal law.

The policies go further. Barring parental approval of other names and pronouns, students under 18 must be referred to by the names and pronouns in their official records. Schools may not encourage teachers to conceal from a student's parents information about that student's gender, and parents must be given an opportunity to object before a school even offers services pertaining to gender.

The policies will be to public comment for 30 days, starting later this month. After that, local school boards will be required to adopt policies "consistent with" the department's, but may be "more comprehensive," a 2020 state law says.

In line with other Democrats and LGBTQ advocacy groups, Democratic Del. Mike Mullin wrote on Twitter that the policy "calls for the misgendering and outing of children in schools where they're supposed to be safe. Absolutely shameful."