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Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Advisory Committee

Minutes of the February 18, 2003 Meeting

Committee Members Present: Commissioner Martha Knutzen, Commissioner Theresa Sparks, Kirsten Boyd, Chris Caldeira, Chris Carnes, James DeVinny, Julie Frank, Ted Guggenheim, Jordy Jones, Nancy Lawlor, Mara M. Montenegro, Jorge Romero-Lozano, Kristine Oreskovich, Lisa Scheff, Stephen Schwichow, Morningstar Vancil.

Committee Members Absent: Jason Alley (excused), Virginia Benavidez (excused), Sally Buchmann, Scott Campbell (excused), Jay Dwyer (excused), Danny Kirchoff, Yoseñio Lewis (excused), Johnnie Pratt (excused).

Staff Present: Larry Brinkin, Domenic Viterbo.

Guests Present: Chris Daley, Kevin Gogin, Jordan Green, Jasmine, Carolyn Laub, Ren Phoenix.

1. Call to Order and Roll Call:

Commissioner Knutzen called the meeting to order at 5:35 p.m. Mr. Brinkin called the roll.

2. Approval of Minutes of January 21, 2003:

Mr. Romero-Lozano moved to approve the minutes as written. Ms. Scheff seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

3. Public Comments for Items Not on the Agenda:


4. Panel on Public School Issues:

Ms. Caldeira introduced Jasmine, a 17-year old senior at Thurgood Marshall High School, who is president of the school's Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA). She said that she came out as a lesbian while in the 8th grade at a Catholic middle school that she attended. In her freshman year, she was reluctant to come out, but then she met a popular junior girl who helped her come out. The two became girlfriends and had helped her gain the confidence to be out in school. Her girlfriend was president of the school's GSA, and when she graduated, Jasmine became president. She also stated that because of her studies and other extracurricular activities, she doesn't have too much time to devote to the GSA. If no one is able to take over the GSA when she graduates, the club may be discontinued.

Jasmine says that though the GSA wasn't attracting a lot of people to join, it isn't being looked down upon. She, along with an advisor, put a slide show together depicting images of LGBT people that was shown at school. She said that most students who come out don't want to make it public. About 30 other students have come out to her confidentially because she is the most out person at school which makes her comfortable to talk to. She has been asked to speak before her peers, students at other high schools, and college students about coming out. She said that the key to gaining the respect of your peers is confidence. You must have the confidence to be yourself or else people look down on you. Since Jasmine is confident about herself and her sexual identity, she hasn't gotten a lot of negative responses.

Jasmine said that the school's teachers are very supportive; students are encouraged to be themselves. She said that she is kept positive and happy due to the great people who surround her. She said that her family is very supportive of her, but her mother is worried mostly about the hardships she may face in the future as a result of being out. Ms. Vancil asked if any teachers have come out to her. Jasmine said that two teachers came out.

Jasmine mentioned that last year, her school held an event called Day of Silence that was sponsored by the Gay Lesbian Straight Network to honor people who've been brutalized by hate crimes. She hopes to make this year's Day of Silence more successful.

Ms. Lawlor introduced 17-year old Jordan Green. Jordan said he came out in the summer of his eighth grade year to his mom and her family. He said that year, he and his sister, accompanied by his mother, went to summer camp and he was caught kissing a boyfriend. Through his one-week stay at camp, he felt that he had experienced blatant homophobia because he was passed up for honors and was moved to a different cabin from where his boyfriend was. From this experience, he vowed to himself to come out in high school. His mother was very supportive of him though his father wasn't quite as accepting.

Jordan had been going to the Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center (LYRIC) for 3 years prior to coming out in high school. He is attending School For The Arts which is a very liberal, open-minded school. On the second day of his freshman year, he met David and Jessica thus forming his support system. This year the three of them became co-presidents of their school's GSA.

Jordan said that by finding the strength and confidence to come out, he was seen as a leader, then became a peer educator teaching sex education. By working with LYRIC as an intern for the young men's health coordinator, he began educating others by putting on workshops and traveled around the country.

Jordan said that he attended workshops on how to run a GSA. Jordan said that other out students his age only want to have fun, and that the GSA's main focus is education. Students visiting the GSA are encouraged to check out their library of LGBT-themed books or other resources they provide.

The GSA has been more education-focused, but Jordan says that they may focus on more social aspects next year. He added that when the social aspect of their GSA changed to being more education-focused, attendance dropped. He said that numbers decreased because people thought it would be a place to be social, to find out who's gay. Eventually more students come out and are invited to the GSA and use it for support, a place to feel accepted.

Ms. Oreskovich asked if straight students attend their workshops. Jasmine replied that her personal friends and allies who are straight would attend workshops to show their support. Jordan said that when he first joined the GSA it was mostly straight, but they were allies.

Ms. Lawlor introduced Mr. Kevin Gogin, Director of Support Services for Sexual Minority Youth, which is a program within the School Health Programs Department of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). He founded the program in September 1990. He added that his program has three components: 1) working with students individually, 2) curriculum development and education, and 3) professional development. Most of Mr. Gogin's work is concentrated mostly at the high school level, though he's called to assess younger students as well.

Mr. Gogin passed out a job description for Sexual Minority Youth Liaison Coordinator (SMYL) for the Health Promotion Committee. The position would be on the high school level. He added that SMYLs are also provided to kindergarten through middle school (K-8) campuses. The SMYLs provide resources to students which includes a drop-in and/or GSA. For K-8 campuses, SMYLs provide a violence prevention event as well as a gay pride event. In the middle school level, there are 10 clubs called either Rainbow, Diversity, or Respect Clubs and are working well. Ms. Boyd asked what happens to kids if they decide to come out in elementary school. Mr. Gogin said that because of funding, SMYLs aren't provided to elementary schools, though there are on-site learning support consultants and nurses. The organization, Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere (COLAGE), has been helpful with broadening their youth meetings to include kids who might be queer as well as children of gay parents.

Commissioner Sparks asked if gender identity is addressed particularly regarding the incidents of last year. Mr. Gogin said that it's much easier nowadays for students to come out as transgender or gender variant than it was 10 years ago, though there are still challenges. He added that education starts with the discussion of gender identity. He said students as early as 6th grade exhibit signs in a variety of ways. San Francisco has policies in place to help aid them in accommodating transgender students even though there are no written policies in the SFUSD. For transgender students, bathrooms and locker rooms are provided and dress codes are not an issue. Mr. Gogin's office can even help students change their sex on school records. They can also find someone on-site whom they can be out to about their gender identity.

Mr. Gogin said that policy exists regarding discrimination against LGBT teachers; however, they cannot dictate their sense of safety. It is clear that LGBT teachers and students have the right to be out if they choose to be.

Carolyn Laub is with the Gay/Straight Alliance Network (GSAN), a network of all the GSAs around the state, primarily high schools. There are currently about 325 GSAs in the state of California. GSAN is a student movement led by students. GSAN started 4 years ago to network the GSAs in the Bay Area, only 40 at the time. Since then they've expanded geographically. GSAN helps foster leadership, provides resources, and supports students who want to be leaders and activists and helps them deal with challenges. Unfortunately very few students from San Francisco have gotten involved though more students outside of San Francisco are active because of strong district program support and strong teacher/adult presence at the school-site level. Ms. Laub passed out a draft policy guide pertaining to transgender students which was created because more school districts are confronting more transgender students coming out at earlier ages. These pose more challenges to schools than questions about sexual orientation. She introduced Chris Daly with the Transgender Law Center with whom she's worked to help put together the policy guide. She said that GSAN has worked with LYRIC and Mr. Gogin's program to help put on the Overcoming Homophobia Meeting for Youth (OHMY) conference each February. This year's event attracted about 500 students. She added that an arts collaboration with LYRIC taught students about different types of media, such as printscreening and graphic design. The students later produced an exhibit. She produced several posters that were created by students through the collaboration that were distributed to all the GSAs in California.

5. Approval of Resolution Honoring Life of Mary Dunlap (Action Item):

Commissioner Knutzen said that the resolution would be voted on at the next Commission meeting. She noted that Cynthia Goldstein, of staff, had written most of the resolution. Commissioner Knutzen, Mr. Brinkin, and Ms. Lawlor shared their personal reflections of Mary. Ms. Lawlor moved to recommend the resolution to the Commission. Ms. Carnes seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

6. Report of the Senior Issues Task Force:

Mr. Brinkin said that the Task Force met on February 4 and is continuing to work on the LGBT Senior Issues report. He said that the Task Force is still working on the recommendations. A draft copy of the report will be sent out on Friday to the Task Force members for review and then will be discussed and voted on at next month's meeting. It will then be given to the Commission for approval at its March 27th meeting. Then members of the Commission on Aging and Adult Services will receive a draft copy of the report for their approval at their April meeting.

7. Report from Gender Identity Guidelines Revisions Task Force:

Mr. Brinkin reported that a draft copy of the report has been given to the City Attorney's office and is currently being reviewed.

8. Recommendation for Appointment of New Members (Action Item):

Ms. Lawlor reported that she, along with Commissioner Knutzen, Mr. Alley, Ms. Vancil, Mr. Brinkin, and Ms. Nicholson, was part of the recruitment committee who interviewed six applicants to the Committee. She said that out of the six applicants who submitted letters of application by the deadline, three were chosen: Bill Kirkpatrick, Aleem Raja, and Lauren Williams. If the Committee votes to recommend them, their names would be given to Commission Chair Malcolm Heineke for appointment. Ms. Vancil moved to recommend the three applicants to the Commission. Mr. Guggenheim seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

9. Retreat Planning:

Mr. Brinkin described the process on how the retreat will be planned. Mr. Brinkin added that Former Commissioner Stephen Herman, an administrator with City College of San Francisco, has allowed the Committee to use the auditorium at 33 Gough Street that was used for last year's retreat. Mr. Brinkin will send the possible retreat dates to Committee members. Commissioner Knutzen suggested that Committee members provide their availability for all retreat dates via e-mail to staff. A retreat planning committee will be selected at next month's meeting.

10. Commissioners' Report:

Commissioner Knutzen announced that a community group is advising the Commission regarding environmental racism. The group advised the Commission that rather than having a hearing, it should consider having a series of workshops. This is so that a more informed hearing will result. Mr. Brinkin said that the group will be meeting tomorrow and will decide on having a hearing, scheduled for March 13, or the workshop idea.

Mr. Brinkin announced that at the upcoming February 27th Commission meeting, a resolution will be presented in honor of the memory of Harry Hay to his partner, John Burnside.

11. Staff Report:

Mr. Brinkin reported that staff will participate in Public Interest Law Day at Hastings School of Law on February 22nd. Staff members will staff a table and interview law students interested in interning at the HRC during the summer.

Mr. Brinkin reported that an intern from Jewish Vocational Services would join staff on March 3rd for 12 hours weekly for five weeks providing assistance on the LGBT Senior Issues report.

Mr. Brinkin announced that he was Acting Diretor last week and is this week while the Director is on maternity leave. Cynthia Goldstein will be Acting Director for two weeks afterward.

Mr. Brinkin announced that members of staff led a few TAP and Gender Identity trainings throughout the month and have more trainings lined up through March.

Mr. Brinkin reported that Los Angeles has had its own Equal Benefits Ordinance for about a year, and its City Council just voted unanimously to strengthen the ordinance to be more like San Francisco's.

Mr. Brinkin announced that at the March 13th Commission meeting, the LGBTH division will report on LGBT immigration issues with invited speakers.

Mr. Brinkin announced that Aleem Raja, a new LGBTAC member, is a finalist for grand marshal of the Pride Parade along with himself and Carolyn Laub, one of the panel speakers.

12. Old/New Business:


13. Announcements:

Ms. Boyd announced that she organized a women's' rap session for Pride.

Mr. Jones announced a transgender rap session at the LGBT Community Center's Senior Room tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m.

Mr. Schwichow reported that he attended a national conference of Unitarian Universalists Office of LGBT Concerns in Kansas City, MO.

Ms. Vancil announced that she would be speaking about racism at the 18th Annual Empowering Women of Color Conference: Fighting for Liberation at UC Berkeley at 10:00 a.m. on March 1st.

14. Adjournment:

Mr. Brinkin moved to adjourn in honor of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon's 50th anniversary as a couple. The meeting was so adjourned at 7:40 p.m.