City and County of San FranciscoHuman Rights Commission

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Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Advisory Committee

Minutes of the February 21, 2006 Meeting



Committee Members Present: Commissioner Mark Dunlop, Whitney Bagby, Dora Balcazar, David Cameron, Julie Frank, Ted Guggenheim, Danny Kirchoff, Nancy Lawlor, Ren Phoenix, Stephen Schwichow, Jason Stein, Morningstar Vancil, Meredith Wood.


Committee Members Absent:Commissioner Cecilia Chung (excused), Aidan Dunn (excused).


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


Guests Present:Dr. Dawn Harbatkin, April May, Steve Noh, Pauli Ojea, Deb Pearce, Aleem Raja.


  • Call to Order and Roll Call:


Commissioner Dunlop called the meeting to order at 5:32 p.m. Mr. Brinkin called the roll.


  • Approval of Minutes of January 17, 2006 (action item):


Mr. Schwichow moved to approve the minutes as written. Mr. Cameron seconded. The motion passed unanimously.


  • Public Comments for Items Not on the Agenda:


Dr. Steve Noh informed the Committee of harassing treatment he received from Walgreen's, and his desire that the Commission look into the matter. He also said he was unhappy with the HRC staff person with whom he had met. Larry Brinkin responded that the Committee does not handle individual complaints, but that the matter will be processed by a different Commission staff person, Kabir Hypolite.


  • Panel Presentation: Women’s Healthcare:


Ms. Vancil introduced Pauli Ojea, Community Organizer, of Breast Cancer Action (BCA); Dr. Dawn Harbatkin, Director, Lyon/Martin Clinic; and Deb Orahpearce, an ovarian cancer survivor.


Ms. Ojea who used a Powerpoint presentation, said that the number of new breast cancer cases in 2005  was 211,240 (1,690 of those are men), including 40, 580 deaths. Breast cancer is the leading cause of death of women ages 35-55. She said that some of the “known” risk factors (“known” is in quotes because these are areas that BCA has studied) include family history, early menarche/late menopause, late first child birth or having no children, hormone replacement therapy, and heredity which makes up 10% of cases. Other “known” and suspected risk factors include alcohol consumption (2+ servings/day), ionizing radiation (e.g. x-rays - the only proven cause of breast cancer), smoking (including second hand smoke), lifetime exposure to estrogen which stimulates cell proliferation. The rate of breast cancer has been increasing about 1% per year and the use of chemicals in the U.S. has been rising to about 3.3 % per year. In regards to lesbians and breast cancer, it is unclear whether lesbians have a higher rate of breast cancer than straight women. What seems to be true is that lesbians exhibit more of the “known” risk factors: less likely to have children, perhaps more alcohol consumption, more exposure to smoke, and lack of access to quality healthcare. She said that there are a lot of other things happening in society, especially in our environment, that haven’t been accounted for and it’s unclear why they’re happening and that is why breast cancer is a public health issue. BCA tries to help people work together collectively to look at what the causes are to achieve prevention and to get people to care for those that are sick now and to help bring about change.


Dr. Dawn Harbatkin, the new Director of Lyon-Martin Women’s Health Services, spoke on health risks affecting lesbians. She has been working in queer health out of New York City, NY. Regarding lesbian health risks, in general, many of the questions regularly asked cannot be answered because of lack of knowledge and research. The studies that have been done aren’t great, but slowly they’re getting better. The Women’s Health Initiative and Nurses Health Study are the first two large studies to look at these issues and to ask questions about sexual orientation in general. The biggest health issue she feels they have a handle on, in terms of lesbian and bisexual women’s health, is access to care. She said that most women enter health care because of their reproductive needs, whereas for most lesbians this doesn’t become an issue that would force them to seek health care. She said that there are many specific barriers that add to the lack of access to care: since lesbians can’t get legally married (meaning they cannot get protections through marriage) they aren’t eligible for survival benefits, medical benefits, and many other protections to which married couples have access. In addition there is a financial piece: many lesbians make less money than men and straight women and have lower rates of insurance. She said that health care costs is a reason that lesbians delay health care and that many don’t have health insurance. In addition there is a real fear of the health care system because they have experienced discrimination in some major point in their lives (verbal abuse, physical violence, and fears of assault from disclosure). She said that cultural competency of health care providers across the country isn’t there: no training, education, or knowledge is offered to them. She said that medical students can be given LGBT sensitivity trainings, but it still wouldn’t be enough to make them culturally competent.


Deb Pearce, is a 3-year ovarian cancer survivor. Along with numerous health problems, including diabetes, she was advised to go to emergency to have a sonogram then went to see an oncologist at St. Rose in San Ramon, CA.   When she found out about her ovarian cancer, she was already in Stage 3 cancer. She immediately underwent chemotherapy and had 27 blood transfusions and was down to 8 cells. As an out lesbian, she said she was treated respectfully at St. Rose and felt lucky to have received such great care. She said that over 29,000 women die of ovarian cancer each year. She said that 99% of ovarian cancer returns after it’s been eradicated and that 99% of women who’ve had an early diagnosis were able to get rid of it completely without having it return. She feels that the medical community needs to do more listening; when something is wrong, don’t shut people out. She said that women ought to have screenings, either a CAT scan or sonograms, once every year. As of today her disabilities have gotten worse and she lost her eyesight for a short time due to the chemo. She advocates for better health care for women, particularly lesbians.



  • Selection of Recommendations for new Committee Members (action item):


Commissioner Dunlop reported that 27 applicants were considered; the Selection Committee (Commissioner Chung, Mr. Brinkin, Ms. Rivera-Weiss, and himself) recommended 12 of the applicants (Jane Aceituno, Celina Chico, Billy Curtis, Calvin Gipson, Christopher Gamora, Erica Newport, Roberto Isaac Ordeñana, Anthony Philip, Martin Rawlings-Fein, Jason Riggs, Kenneth C. Williams, and Diana Ming Yin) as well as to reinstate Aleem Raja. Mr. Brinkin reported that of the 27 applicants, 5 arrived late and therefore couldn’t be considered. He said that Erica Newport, one of the applicants selected, lived in San Francisco; however, because of a fire, she is living in Oakland. He added that Ms. Newport must inform staff if she’s going to be a San Francisco resident by March.


Ms. Phoenix moved to recommend the new Committee members. Mr. Guggenheim seconded. The motion passed unanimously. The recommendations will be forwarded to the Chair of the Commission for appointment.


  • Member Presentation: UCSF AIDS Health Project (AHP) (Julie Frank):


Ms. Frank will have worked at AHP as a licensed clinical social worker for 10 years in May and has been working in the AIDS/HIV field for 15 years and came into LGBT activism through her HIV work. She had coordinated the HIV-positive support group programs at AHP which entails coordinating 25 support groups primarily composed of gay and bisexual men for the past nine and a half years. Her newest position is a clinical supervisor of the training program which does all the statewide training for HIV test site counselors. Overview about the agency: AHP was founded in 1984 out of the Department of Psychiatry of UCSF. The beginning years of AHP, the main focus was on gay/bisexual men. The Mission Statement of the program since 1984 is to provide culturally sensitive counseling and education to stop the spread of HIV infection and to help people face the emotional, psychological, and social challenges of living with HIV and AIDS. The agency has worked on prevention issues both from the standpoint of people who are and who aren’t living with HIV. The support groups comprise a sizeable part of the AHP: there are groups that specifically focus on HIV prevention for HIV-negative and untested men, groups of men of mixed serostatus to have conversations about prevention and substance issues in relation to HIV, groups specifically for men living with HIV. Individual counseling is available for people living with HIV, risk prevention counseling for at-risk gay and bisexual men with HIV, and an out-call crisis team for people living with HIV. AHP works compassionately with other agencies to help those in mental health and substance abuse programs get the support they need. There is an AIDS and substance abuse program, intensive case management for people living with HIV, and a case management program for frequent utilizers of emergency rooms and psychiatric services with the goal to help keep these people out of such crisis services. They also have the Considering Work Project and are having big collaborations with other organizations on returning-to-work issues. The agency has been able to meet the changing needs of the epidemic.


  • Commissioner Report:


Commissioner Dunlop reported that S.F. 49ERS made a presentation regarding their training video. He said that the 49ERS did make a sincere effort to do outreach and education within the organization and to proactively support groups within the community. Mr. Brinkin said that a copy of their report will be available electronically and will be sent to the Committee.


Commissioner Dunlop reported that the HRC’s budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year has been submitted to the Mayor’s office.


  • Staff Report:


Mr. Brinkin reported that he is the principal staff person who worked closely with Ed Goines, the 49ERS’ General Counsel. He worked with them on their Internal Diversity Plan and they’re working with community members on a Community Action Plan to use foundation money for community projects. He said that the two plans are living documents with lots of flexibility built in them. He said that they have developed a Diversity Council which is made up of volunteers in the organization to work on any diversity-related issues within the organization. A Community Advisory Counsel will be formed from community groups to advise the 49ERS. He said that the HRC will monitor the 49ERS for three years on parts of their Internal Diversity Plan. Hopefully their efforts will be a model for other teams within the NFL.


Mr. Brinkin reported that the HRC Director, Virginia Harmon, just had a baby, Gabriel, and that Cynthia Goldstein is Acting Director until Ms. Harmon returns.


Mr. Brinkin said the HRC has lost significant funding from the general fund and that most of the HRC funding now comes from large City departments to pay for work we do on contract compliance. When the next budget hearing is scheduled, the Committee will be given more information.


Mr. Brinkin reported that Mr. Arana is training all Police Department personnel on transgender issues.


Mr. Brinkin said that he’s part of the San Francisco Partnership on Senior Issues that is looking at senior issues affecting the African-American, Latin-American, Asian/Pacific Islander, and LGBT communities. He is on the group studying LGBT senior issues and that they, and all the groups studying the other communities, will be getting together on Friday, February 24, to work on diversity and how they can all work together. He added that the LGBT group, which meets once each month, is looking for people to work with them.


Mr. Brinkin thanked Mr. Arana and Ms. Frank for their service on the Committee because tonight is the last meeting for both of them. Hadas Rivera-Weiss will take over for Mr. Arana as a staffer starting next month.


Mr. Brinkin reported that when the Chair of the Human Rights Commission appoints the new Committee members, an email will be sent out to all 27 members with possible retreat dates. All Committee members must respond with their availability to all the proposed dates. The date of the retreat will be determined when all Committee members have responded.


Mr. Brinkin reported that the letter to the Mayor of Warsaw will be voted on at by the Commission at their next meeting on Thursday. He said the Commission asked for some minor changes to the letter, mainly about safety.


  • Old/New Business:


Mr. Cameron said that he contacted Nick Carr, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Person with the Department of Parking and Traffic. Mr. Carr will make a presentation at the March meeting.


  • Announcements:


Ms. Phoenix announced that the Pride Committee will conduct rap sessions to address various interests regarding this year’s Pride Celebration. A listing of the rap sessions is on their website:

Ms. Vancil said that the first LGBT Cancer Conference will be held this year in the City on October 13 – 14.


  •   Adjournment:


The meeting was adjourned at 7:33 p.m.