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Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Advisory Committee

Minutes of the March 15, 2005 Meeting

Committee Members Present: Commissioner Cecilia Chung, Whitney Bagby, Dora Balcazar, Sally Buchmann, David Cameron, Ben Chan, Cindy Dubuque, Julie Frank, Ted Guggenheim, Danny Kirchoff, Aidan Kotler, Patrick Mulcahey, Ellise Nicholson, Ren Phoenix, Rebecca Rolfe, Jorge Romero-Lozano, Stephen Schwichow, Jason Stein, Morningstar Vancil, Meredith Wood.

Committee Members Absent: Commissioner Pat Norman (excused), Becky Freund (excused), Nancy Lawlor, Aleem Raja (excused).

Staff Present: Marcus Arana, Larry Brinkin, Domenic Viterbo.

Guests Present: Mario Balcita, Brian Davis, Meredith Fenton, Peter Trinkl.

  1. Call to Order and Roll Call:

    Commissioner Chung called the meeting to order at 5:35 p.m. and welcomed new members to their first meeting. Mr. Brinkin called the roll.

  2. Approval of Minutes of February 15, 2005:

    Commissioner Chung moved to approve the minutes as written. The motion passed unanimously.

  3. Public Comments for Items Not on the Agenda (action item):

    No public comments were made.

  4. Panel: Homophobia and Transphobia in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD):

    Messrs. Guggenheim and Schwichow introduced the guest panelists: Brian Davis, a middle school teacher with SFUSD; Meredith Fenton, Program Director for Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere (COLAGE); and Mario Balcita, Director of the Love and Justice Program at Community United Against Violence (CUAV).

    Mr. Davis has been a teacher for the SFUSD for nine years. When he first started teaching, he came out openly to school staff, but not to his students. He did not come out to them during his four years of teaching because the environment of the first few schools he began teaching at weren’t welcoming. As a teacher just starting out, the advice his colleagues gave him, should a student ask him if he was gay, was for him to say that that’s personal and that it’s not appropriate for them to ask those kinds of questions. However he felt the answer he was really giving them was the opposite. Even though he talked about gay issues to his students, he wasn’t comfortable coming out to them. When he began teaching at the Claire Lilienthal School, he decided to come out, but it was the principal who wasn’t comfortable with it. Then during a field trip, he came out to one of his students who asked him if he was married. His coming out was welcomed by many of his students. However, over time, he became the target of anti-gay epithets that were written on school grounds. He realized that he needed to do more to increase awareness on LGBT issues. He became involved with Support Services for Sexual Minority Youth under the School Health Programs Department at SFUSD. He was put in contact with Olivia Higgins, who runs the program’s middle school component, who gave him materials on how to run the program and how to train teachers and counsel students on gay and other issues. Under the program he became his school’s Sexual Minority Youth Liaison (SMYL) at his school. As the students, on their own, began discussing LGBT issues he later openly came out to his students. He came out to them because 1) he wanted to make sure that they knew that using words such as "fag" and "gay" as an insult were not acceptable just as other words to put down others aren’t; 2) to let the students who have LGBT parents or family friends know that they were safe and supported in his classroom; and 3) that other people in the school are, or may later come out as, LGBT and face this issue. He and Mr. Guggenheim have been a fixture among staff and are recognized as a couple. He has written a story that is featured in the book, One Teacher in Ten (Second Edition), about his experiences. Mr. Guggenheim added that Mr. Gogin and Ms. Higgins apologized for not being able to attend the meeting.

    Meredith Fenton is the Program Director of COLAGE, the only national organization that works specifically with children, youth, or adults with one or more LGBT parent(s). She says that in terms of the experiences of students who have one or more LGBT parent, it depends on what school they attend. She said that 4th-8th grade students have shared the harshest stories; the stories range from harassment from other students or teachers to a general climate of homophobia that make them live closeted about their families. She said that there is a sense from students entering high school of which schools are homophobic; usually schools with more money tend to be less homophobic leading to the question of the impact of socioeconomics. She said that students know about AB 537 which protects students from being discriminated against because of having an LGBT parent or being associated with someone who is LGBT; however, they feel that they’re only covered if it’s a serious case and not the little day-to-day interactions. She added that COLAGE goes to schools to do trainings; students in their High School Youth Leadership in Action program are trained high school and college students who go to classrooms and do presentations or panels about LGBT families and homophobia. She said that trainings are currently provided on a case-by-case basis because trainers would have to leave school to do presentations. She added that they provide tools for schools and teachers such as posters to raise LGBT visibility. She said that one of their newer resources for high schools is an anthology of stories, poetry, and art by youth of LGBT parents called Focus On My Family. She said that they’re always looking for ways for schools to not just know the problems, but to know what the solutions are in terms of addressing LGBT issues openly in classrooms. She described some of the programs provided by COLAGE such as rap groups and the Leadership in Activism training program for high school students who are currently working on a film project about youth in LGBT families specifically focusing on the same-sex marriage issue.

    Mario Balcita works with queer youth of color in talking about relationship violence and how oppression affects violence within and against our communities. He was born and raised in San Francisco and described his coming out during his senior year in high school then doing queer youth work for the past 10 years. He said that his experiences were negative around LGBT issues; since elementary school he was verbally harassed; however, he didn’t know what the words meant and feels that the students taunting him often didn’t know what they meant either. His said that his experiences from elementary school to high school were mostly about gender and not fitting into stereotypes and finds that those experiences are the same with the youth he works with. His high school was not equipped to help him address his issues; students were told by the principal to leave their issues at home. Yet he was continually harassed by students in the hallways and classrooms and was not supported by his teachers. He also feels that due to socioeconomics, schools that are ‘whiter’ – that is, schools that have more money - are safer and able to provide gay/straight alliances and SMYL programs unlike other less-funded schools. Also being a person of color, he felt that he couldn’t talk to a caucasian SMYL liaison about his personal experiences. He feels that even though San Francisco is a progressive city in dealing with LGBT issues, things haven’t really changed much in schools. He said he’d spoken to kids who won’t or do not identify as ‘gay’ because the gay community is perceived as white. He urged the Committee to continue working on this issue by talking to more queer youth on sharing their experiences in public schools.

    The panel entertained questions.

  5. Approval of recommendation to Commissioners to change the committee name to "Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex Advisory Committee" (action item):

    Mr. Cameron, who had proposed this issue, said that it might be premature to vote on this item since the final draft of the Intersex Report hasn’t been approved for distribution. Commissioner Chung framed the issue for the new members. Mr. Cameron added that "intersex" is not a community, but anatomical variation. Peter Trinkl said that Cheryl Chase and other intersex advocates do not support adding "intersex" without further discussion. He feels that voting on including "intersex" in the Committee’s name should be put on hold. He said that since there is more education emerging around this issue, the political aspects are underdeveloped and suggested tabling this item for another meeting.

    Mr. Schwichow said that the overall message is discrimination and that those in the LGBT communities see ourselves in the same boat. He said that the intersex community understands that we have far more in common than just anatomical differences. Mr. Trinkl said that being intersex is a disability and should be separate. Mr. Mulcahey suggested that we shouldn’t rush into this; that we need to study this issue rather than tabling it.

    Commissioner Chung said that this item will be tabled to a later period.

  6. Approval of agenda for annual retreat (action item):

    Mr. Mulcahey reported that the Retreat Planning Committee – himself, Commissioner Chung, Mr. Brinkin, and Mr. Viterbo - met on March 8 to discuss the retreat agenda. He said that more time had been built into helping clarify what panels, task forces, etc., are and what we can do as a Committee. Mr. Brinkin said that the Committee guidelines will be sent to the Committee members prior to retreat. He said that there will be a discussion on coming up with a better outreach plan to use at the next recruitment process. He proposed that the Committee come up with specific outreach tasks for members. Mr. Brinkin said that a homework assignment will be sent to the Committee members prior to retreat which will describe the icebreaker exercises and instructions on how to present proposals. Everyone is to think of one issue to propose. He said that Committee members who will not be attending retreat can forward their issue to staff or have another Committee member raise the issue.

  7. Commissioners’ Report:

    Commissioner Chung reported that the Commission gave Dr. Larry Baskin a finite amount of time to provide positive findings on surgeries related to intersex conditions to be included in the intersex report. He was invited to the April 14 Commission meeting to provide his findings; however, if he cannot provide any supporting documentation to add to the report, it will be published without them. Commissioner Chung added that even though items can still be added to it after the report’s been published, the content of the report will remain. Mr. Brinkin added that if the Commissioners wanted to make major changes the report, because of the public notice requirements, the public has to be able to examine those changes the report therefore, would be finalized at the April 28th meeting. Commissioner Chung reported that the Commission will be on a mini-retreat on Thursday, March 24, to focus on issues for the coming year.

  8. Staff Report:

Mr. Brinkin reported that Mr. Raja gave a great presentation to Commissioners on issues affecting South Asian LGBT communities. He added that the LGBT Division presents a report to the Commission every third meeting and they would like to get to hear from members of the Committee.

Mr. Arana reported that he is providing an LGBT sensitivity training for the Episcopal sanctuary to help with residents at Next Door on March 16 at 8:30 a.m. He added that he is continuing to work with the San Francisco Police Department in training every station on transgender issues. He added that he will be attending an all-day training for health educators at San Jose State University in April and Stanford and Santa Clara County in May. He also will be attending a national AmFar conference to speak on transgender issues. Mr. Brinkin added that he, Cynthia Goldstein, Kabir Hypolite, and Yong Lee will join Mr. Arana in future LGBT sensitivity trainings to discuss legal aspects.

Mr. Brinkin announced that a Transgender Job Fair will be held on Tuesday, March 22 at the LGBT Center from 4:00 –7:00 p.m. and staff will be attending to provide information.

10. Old/New Business:

No Old/New Business was discussed.

  1. Announcements:

    Mr. Guggenheim announced that Brian Davis will be reading the piece that was sent in the packets at A Different Light Bookstore on Friday, March 25. Ms. Frank announced that the Statewide Action for Transgender HIV Protection and Care conference will be held on Tuesday, May 17 through Thursday, May 19. Mr. Cameron announced that he will be speaking on intersex issues at the university of Colorado in Denver. Mr. Brinkin announced that he is working on a community partnership on senior issues in making sure that senior services providers are being sensitive to senior LGBT issues. Mr. Arana announced that Randy Burns, a local Native American activist, is running for Grand Marshall at this year’s Pride Celebration and to vote for him, or any of the other nominees, on the S.F. Pride’s website, Ms. Buchmann announced that there will be a demonstration outside of Charles Schwab, 101 Montgomery Street, on Thursday, March 31, at 11:30 a.m. regarding retirement protection for public employees. Commissioner Chung announced the Banyan Tree Project, an anti-stigma campaign, is being launched by the Asian/Pacific Islander Wellness Center on May 19 (

  2. Adjournment:

The meeting was adjourned at 7:25 p.m.