Michelle Steel and Daniel Garza: Pass the SPEAK Act to improve access to health care

Imagine yourself at the doctor’s office, seated next to your mother who only speaks Korean. You listen intently, focused on each and every word the doctor said while furiously taking notes. It’s easy to feel frustrated. How can someone share in the right language, in the right way, how your mother feels and most importantly how do you translate the information you were receiving in English to Korean. 

Things often get lost in translation and this challenge affects millions of Americans. Telehealth for example, is a phenomenal resource that continues improving health care access not just by lowering costs but by removing the temporal and geographical barriers to care. Unfortunately, not all Americans have been able to benefit.

Patients with limited English proficiency are significantly less likely than other Americans to make use of telehealth. The demand for these services is present in communities with limited English proficiency, but to solve this problem it will require a bipartisan effort. That is why it is so important to find common ground in Congress to help break down language barriers in this country to improve access to our health care system. The introduction of the Supporting Patient Education and Knowledge (SPEAK) Act marks an important step toward assuring that all Americans have access to the care they need. 

The SPEAK Act would create a taskforce to identify how best to support the over 25 million people in the U.S. with limited English proficiency and ensure that they can also benefit from new health care services. Health care affects all of us and a language barrier is not just a treatment barrier, but it is also expensive. Not only does limited language access keep individuals from receiving proper care or even pursuing it, but unclear communication can result in real harm to patients and providers.  

The numbers themselves speak volumes—patients with limited English proficiency face an elevated risk of medical errors, and a staggering $1.7 billion in medical malpractice costs over five years could have been averted with improved patient communication. It’s more than just policy; it’s about drastically improving and even saving lives. The SPEAK act is more than a message, it’s a commitment to making healthcare services accessible to all Americans.

The Asian and Hispanic communities to which we belong would benefit greatly from increased language access. Together these two communities represent 60 percent of California’s 45th district and 54 percent of the whole state. Many of us enjoy the rich diversity of our community: from the Vietnamese Night Market in Little Saigon to the culture celebrations in Buena Park, our district represents the best of America, and we should want all Americans, regardless of origin, to be able to receive services just like everyone else.

Being the children of immigrants, we both personally understand the challenges that can come from limited language access, especially in the realm of health care. We know well the look of relief from our own parents when they find a health care professional who speaks their language. We, like countless others, find ourselves in the doctor’s office translating for family members. Increasing language access doesn’t just benefit the single individual with limited English proficiency but also has positive effects on their caregivers and family unit. The SPEAK Act is a step toward a world where our families and neighbors could not only access the care and treatment they need, but also be able to fully understand their options. This act is a step towards ensuring dignity in health care access. 

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Child Psychiatric Association Refuses to Hear Scientific Evidence Critical of ‘Gender Affirming Care’

Slowly, it is becoming clear that the scientific data behind what is called “gender-affirming care” is sorely lacking. Consequently, several countries in Europe have hit the brakes on immediate social affirmation, puberty blocking, and surgeries in children.

Yet much of the American medical establishment (and the Biden administration) continues to resist changing treatment guidelines. Why? Because medical science in this sensitive field has been polluted by a fervent gender ideology that it not only resists considering contrary data but even the expression of differing opinions.

Case in point: In the past the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) declared that any interference with gender affirmation was in violation of the scientific “evidence,” and hence, wrong. From its 2019 “AACAP Statement Responding to Efforts to ban Evidence-Based Care for Transgender and Gender Diverse Youth” (my emphasis):

Research consistently demonstrates that gender diverse youth who are supported to live and/or explore the gender role that is consistent with their gender identity have better mental health outcomes than those who are not…

State-based legislation regarding the treatment of transgender youth that directly oppose the evidence-based care recognized by professional societies across multiple disciplines is a serious concern. Many reputable professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Endocrine Society, which represent tens of thousands of professionals across the United States, recognize natural variations in gender identity and expression and have published clinical guidance that promotes nondiscriminatory, supportive interventions for gender diverse youth based on the current evidence base. These interventions may include, and are not limited to, social gender transition, hormone blocking agents, hormone treatment, and affirmative psychotherapeutic modalities.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) supports the use of current evidence-based clinical care with minors. AACAP strongly opposes any efforts – legal, legislative, and otherwise – to block access to these recognized interventions.

So what matters is the “current evidence,” right? Only if the data support the AACAP leadership’s gender ideology. Recently scheduled panels of reputable mental health professionals from Europe that would have explained the scientific reasons for desisting immediate gender affirmation were canceled by the AACAP. From the Washington Free Beacon story:

A top pediatric psychiatry organization has nixed at least three panels with leading European psychologists about Europe’s move away from chemical interventions for children with gender dysphoria, raising questions about the politicization of American medicine and underscoring a clinical divide between the United States and much of the world.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), which sets practice guidelines for the field, rejected one panel in 2022 and two more this May on the advice of its “Gender Identity Committee,” whose co-chair, Aron Janssen, has described restrictions on puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones as an “effort to oppress.”…

The speakers planned to discuss the data that led Finland, Sweden, and England to abandon the more laissez-faire treatment model now dominant in the United States, according to emails and panel proposals reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

Click here to read the full article in the National Review

California’s Education Revolution

‘Schools have kids for 9 months out of the year; parents have their kids for a lifetime’

Many parents want to know why public school teachers can’t just let their kids be kids without forcing sex and an inappropriate sexual agenda on them in grade school, middle school and high school.

This, as well as the Critical Race Theory agenda, is what led to the astounding parent revolution first witnessed in Virginia, but now never so prominent as it is in California.

California lawmakers even passed the quixotic Assembly Bill 367 by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2021, which now requires that one boys’ bathroom in every middle and high school have tampon dispensers.

Christopher Rufo with the Manhattan Institute and City Journal, has chronicled the shocking sexualization of school children as young as pre-kindergarteners. And it’s not the birds and the bees radical teachers are exposing the kids to.

In his most recent report, Rufo exposes the National Education Association promoting a how-to guide for “anal sex,” “bondage,” “sadomasochism,” and “fisting” in public schools.

Rufo says the NEA and its local affiliate in Hilliard, Ohio, which have been providing staff in the Hilliard City School District with QR code-enabled badges, “which point to the “NEA LGBTQ+ Caucus” website and resources from gender activist organizations including Scarleteen, Sex, Etc., Gender Spectrum, The Trevor Project, and Teen Health Source.”

Rufo continues:

One of these linked resources, Teen Health Source’s “Queering Sexual Education,” which promises to “empower youth” and includes a how-to guide for performing “anal sex,” “bondage,” “rimming,” “domination,” “sadomasochism,” “muffing,” and “fisting.” The materials are extremely graphic, explaining how to, for example, “[put] a fist or whole hand into a person’s vagina or bum.”

The Teen Health Source page would make the most hard-as-nails, grizzled longshoreman blush.

This is a screen capture of the NEA LGBTQ+ website, showing the partners: CTA, the  California Teachers Association labor union, as well as California Casualty, auto and home insurer.

It appears that the more parents reveal the fanatical sexual agenda in public schools, the more extremist it becomes.

California is ground zero for all around wackiness

President of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network, and education analyst Larry Sand, writing recently in American Greatness, reports on a recently published PDK International survey which reveals that only 50 percent of all adults have confidence that teachers can teach civics, and just 38 percent believe that they can handle “gender/sexuality issues.”

“What could possibly be causing such negativity?” Sand asks. “For the most part it is due to the ‘woke’ revolution that is impacting the lives of American children.”

Sand explains that California, “ground zero for all around wackiness is where the state puts its stamp on an endless parade of perversity.” He offers these examples:

  • In Los Angeles, the school district proudly hosts a “Rainbow Club,” which is a 10-week district-wide virtual club for “LGBTQ+ elementary school students, their friends and their grown-ups.” The poster specifies that it is for children in TK-5th (“TK” or transitional kindergarten is comprised of 4-year-olds.)
  • A high school teacher in the Capistrano school district has a “queer library” in her classroom. It is filled with over 100 books—some of which contain sex imagery, information on orgies, sex parties, and BDSM.
  • Also, the state’s education department is recommending books to young students that teach expanded sexualities and gender identities. For example, the state recommends “Julian is a Mermaid” for preschoolers and kindergarteners. The book describes a young boy who wants to be a sea-dwelling creature, after he sees a parade of people dressed up as mermaids while out with his grandmother. The boy puts on lipstick, makes himself a mermaid costume, and his grandmother gives him a beaded necklace to complete his outfit.

This is fanaticism. But Sand correctly points out, “On a local level, parents hold the key.”

“The grassroots parents revolution is real and it is going to erupt in all parts of California,” Lance Izumi, the Senior Director of Education Studies at the Pacific Research Institute, told the Globe. He continued:

“It was parents in San Francisco who threw out far-left extremist school board members who were totally out of touch with the education concerns of the community. Now you are seeing slates of parents running for their local school boards popping up all across California. These parents are fed up with the politicized curricula and ideological indoctrination their children are receiving. They are also fed up with the special-interest agenda of the teachers unions, plus the wholesale failure of the public schools to improve the achievement of their children. Parents have brought their energy to school board meetings and have demanded that their districts be accountable and transparent. Now they will be bringing that energy, focus, and commitment to the polls in November. I predict that there will be wholesale turnover in school boards in many districts and that parents will end up holding the reins of power. It will then be up to them to effect real change in the public schools and ensure that children and parents come first.”

California Superintendent of Public Instruction

The outsider candidate for California Superintendent of Public Instruction, Lance Christensen, told the Globe Wednesday, “everything that touches education curriculum comes from the Superintendent’s office,” as the Superintendent sits on the California Board of Education.

Christensen, a father of five said:

“As education policy continues to spiral to things inconsistent with community values and parents’ desires, they realized recourse was not coming from their school boards. No one else was going to stand up and save their kids.”

“So in the year of the parent, people are stepping up to fight for kids and bring sanity back to schools,” Christensen said. “I personally endorse anyone running for school board who supports parents rights and school choice.”

“And it is going to be at the local level that we take our schools back, and I am going to be the voice of that movement,” Christensen added. “Having a massive bully pulpit for parents’ rights is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The rights of parents

“This year, the rights of parents are on the ballot like never before,” Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Granite Bay) says on his endorsements page of school board races. Kiley recently announced he was supporting and endorsing outstanding pro-parent, pro-student candidates running for school board throughout California, and says he will continue to do so.

Kiley’s initial endorsements grew into his “Champions for Kids” directory, which is available on his website.

“The role of school boards has never been more important, and in the upcoming election we have an opportunity to set education in California on a new course,” Assemblyman Kiley said. “I’m proud to be supporting several hundred pro-parent, pro-student candidates for school board throughout our state.”

This catastrophic learning loss

Shawn Steel, California’s committeeman for the Republican National Committee, recently wrote an op ed at the Globeexposing the UTLA, the L.A. teachers’ union, which “strongly opposed standardized tests during the COVID-19 pandemic. That testing data could have sounded the alarm on the catastrophic learning loss caused by remote learning,” Steel said. “At every turn, UTLA aggressively blocked plans to reopen schools. In March 2021, 91 percent of UTLA members opposed reopening schools and remained in distance learning programs that were causing kids to fall behind.”

After denying that learning loss, the UTLA then opposed extra teaching days to help kids catch up. “There is no such thing as learning loss,” Cecily Myart-Cruz, president of United Teachers Los Angeles told Los Angeles magazine last year.

“This catastrophic learning loss should be the greatest concern for teachers. Instead, the top teachers’ union brass denies that it exists at all,” Steel said.

CA Teachers Union Did Oppo Research On Parents Who Wanted Schools To Reopen During COVID

The Globe recently reported that Reopen California Schools exposed via emails received through California Public Records Act requests that the California Teachers Association labor union conducted opposition research on parent groups pushing for school reopening during the government ordered COVID school shutdowns in California. Instead of a healthy reaction and response to so many parents’ concerns, the CTA doubled down and went on offense and politically targeted moms and dads protecting their children.

The Globe talked with Dry Creek School Board candidate Jean Pagnone (above) on why she made the decision to run for her school board – she definitively spells out her determination:

“I made the decision to run for the Dry Creek School Board when I realized that I could no longer watch state and local schools fail our children, parents, and teachers. Schools have kids for 9 months out of the year. Parents have their kids for a lifetime. I think one of the things we learned from the pandemic is that we don’t have the luxury of blind trust when we send our kids off to school each day. What we’re seeing are parents being ignored and not respected – whether it’s a lack of transparency on subjects that are controversial or sensitive or medical decisions that belong with the parent. I’ve also heard from a lot of teachers who have quit or are thinking of leaving because they aren’t comfortable with what they’re being told to teach. And let me tell you, there are a lot of great teachers out there who are fighting for the kids, but they cannot speak out publicly.”

Click here to read the full article in California Globe

Lawmakers Approve Groundbreaking Internet Privacy Law for Kids

When does a kid become an adult? It’s an elusive question that developmental psychologists, philosophers and parents might answer differently. 

But lawmakers can’t work with ambiguity. So in the late 1990s, Congress decided that — at least when it comes to surfing the web — kids are people under 13. 

Last week, California legislators said: Nope. Kids are people under 18. And if Gov. Gavin Newsom signs a bill they just passed, kids under 18 in California will get many more privacy rights online. 

What young people encounter on apps and the web has become a source of mounting concern for parents, fed by alarming headlines and new research. So a bipartisan group of legislators pushed forward the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, also known as AB 2273. Passed unanimously out of the Legislature last week, the bill could become a model for other states — or provide a roadmap for Congress, which is considering its own privacy bill

“Social media is something that was not designed with children in mind,” said Emily “Emi” Kim, an 18-year-old who lives in Porter Ranch, near Los Angeles.

Kim splits her time being legislative director for Log Off Movement, a youth-led organization that advocated for the bill, while also attending college classes and working at Chipotle. 

Here’s what the bill would do

If it gets signed into law, California businesses that provide online services or products likely to be accessed by kids under 18 would have to provide greater privacy protections by default starting in July 2024. Specifically the bill would:

  • Require companies to assess potential harm in how they use kids’ data in new services or features, and create a plan to reduce the risk before the feature is rolled out.
  • Prohibit companies from using kids’ information in a way that the business knows (or has reason to know) is “materially detrimental” to their wellbeing — like pushing kids to photos of skinny supermodels after they search for weight loss information.
  • Generally prohibit companies from collecting, selling, sharing or keeping any personal information on a kid, unless it’s necessary to provide the service the kid is directly using. 
  • Ban companies from collecting, selling, or sharing precise location data for kids by default, unless it’s strictly necessary for the feature, and only then for a limited time.
  • Require the product to make it obvious to kids when they are being tracked, if the company allows parents or adults to track kids online.

If some of those requirements sound vague, the bill also creates a new working group — made up of experts in kids’ data privacy, computer science, mental health and more — to make recommendations to the Legislature.  

The bill would be enforced by the state attorney general, who could bring civil lawsuits that could result in penalties of up to $7,500 per kid for intentional violations.

Karla Garcia, a parent of an 11-year-old in the west Los Angeles neighborhood of Palms, supports the bill because she hopes it will rein in the algorithms that suck her son, Alessandro Greco, into YouTube.  “He knows it’s an addiction,” she said of her son’s America’s Got Talent binges, which keep him from doing his homework. “Honestly, I have this fight every night with my child.” 

“I want him to have his independence, but this is stronger than him,” Garcia said. 

How the law has worked elsewhere

The idea was borrowed from a U.K. law, which went into effect in September 2021. Since the law passed, tech companies have made changes, including the following:

  • YouTube turned off autoplay — the feature that plays videos continuously— for users under 18.  
  • Google made SafeSearch the default for users under 18, and stopped tracking kids’ location data. 
  • TikTok stopped sending push notifications to teenagers late at night. Teens 13-15 don’t receive push notifications after 9 p.m., and 16- and 17-year-olds don’t receive push notifications after 10 p.m. The company also disabled direct messages for users under 16.

Who gets to be a kid?

The bill faced pushback from lobbying organizations representing tech companies and other businesses, including the California Chamber of Commerce, Entertainment Software Association and TechNet. TechNet counts Amazon, Google, Meta (formerly known as Facebook) and Uber among its members.  The organizations argued that the bill would apply to more sites than necessary. 

“It’s another example of why we need a federal privacy law that includes universal standards to protect kids online instead of a patchwork of state laws that creates confusion and compliance complications for businesses,” said Dylan Hoffman, TechNet’s executive director overseeing California and the Southwest, in a statement. 

One of the main changes the groups pushed for was lowering the bill’s definition of a kid from 18 to 13, as in the federal law.  Then they advocated for 16, which is a threshold in a California privacy law, said Hoffman. But the business groups weren’t successful in that push. 

“Any parent, to be honest any grandparent, any sister,  brother, would tell you that a 13-year-old is not an adult,” said Baroness Beeban Kidron, a member of the U.K.’s House of Lords, who spearheaded the effort to pass the U.K. law, and founded of 5Rights Foundation, which sponsored the California bill.  “You can’t ask a 13-year-old to make adult decisions,” Kidron said. 

What happens next?

First, Newsom will decide whether he wants to sign the bill into law, or veto it. If he signs it, most of the measure’s requirements won’t go into effect until 2024. 

But companies would have to start identifying and mitigating risks to children immediately, said Nichole Rocha, head of U.S. affairs at 5Rights Foundation. In other words, if the bill is signed into law, companies might start rolling out changes well before 2024.

What if companies don’t want to comply? Would the threat of a potential lawsuit from California’s attorney general be enough to prod them into action? 

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

Paso Robles School Board Votes to Defy the State, No Mask Mandate

Paso Robles school board votes to defy the state, no mask mandate

The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District voted 5-2 on Tuesday to defy Gov. Gavin Newsom’s mask mandate for schools, and to allow students to decide if they want to wear a mask at school.

More than a dozen students and parents spoke against the mandate, and for student choice. Multiple speakers chastised teachers who adversely graded students they caught not properly wearing their masks.

Board members and speakers spoke of the hypocrisy of making students, the least vulnerable in the community, wear masks at school while adults are not required to wear masks in most settings.

Click here to read the full article at CalCoastNews.com

Judge’s order could expose 10M California schoolkids’ personal info

As reported by Fox News:

A federal judge’s order earlier this month that California public schools turn a trove of personal information on millions of children over to two nonprofits has parents worried and privacy rights advocates outraged.

The nonprofits, who advocate for special needs kids, say they need the info to gauge compliance with federal law, but critics don’t believe Social Security numbers, home addresses and other sensitive records should be included. The ruling by Judge Kimberly Mueller of the Eastern District of California, applies to all students enrolled in Golden State public schools at any time since 2008, a number estimated at 10 million.

“People are confused, worried and angry,” said Bill Ainsworth, a spokesman for the California Department of Education.

The order from Mueller, who sits in Sacramento, stems from a 2012 lawsuit filed by …

Click here to read the full article

Should Sex Offenders Have Rights Too?

The California Supreme Court recently ruled that the residency restrictions against sex offenders go against their constitutional rights.

“Blanket enforcement of the residency restrictions against these parolees has severely restricted the incidence of homelessness among them, and hindered their access to medical treatment, drug and alcohol dependency services, psychological counseling and other rehabilitative social services available to all parolees,” wrote Justice Marvin R. Baxter, on behalf of the court.

I’m sorry, but whenever these sexual predators decided to act in an inappropriate manner, they gave up any kind of privacy or “constitutional rights” they had. Whenever child molesters violated a young child, they sealed their fate. Whenever a rapist decided his needs were more important than his victims, he lost any ounce of “rights” he once had.

If any sort of medical treatment is being withheld from sex offenders because it takes place at a school or park, then the simple answer would be to move the location to a place that is all inclusive. That would open up these services to everyone without placing our children at risk.

I’ve come to feel very strong about the topic of sexual assault. One of my very first protests was when I was 13. My dad and I stood across the street from a high-risk sex offender who was placed in a halfway house just up the road from an elementary school. Members of the community were outraged – and rightfully so – because this man had committed heinous acts with young children. For weeks, John and Ken from KFI AM640 held live remotes in the dirt with protestors. And there I was, along side them.

I have had numerous friends and family members who have been sexually assaulted and their number one wish is always the same: they want to try and keep the same thing from happening to someone else. They want to become advocates for others before those other people become victims.

Allowing these sex offenders to be placed near schools and parks where young children gather is like dangling a live worm in front of a fish. At some point, the fish is going to bite.