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Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Advisory Committee

Minutes of the August 19, 2003 Meeting

Committee Members Present: Commissioner Martha Knutzen, Commissioner Theresa Sparks, Jason Alley, Sally Buchmann, Chris Caldeira, Scott Campbell, Jay Dwyer, Julie Frank, Ted Guggenheim, Danny Kirchoff, Bill Kirkpatrick, Nancy Lawlor, Melchor Bustamante, Johnnie Pratt, Aleem Raja, Jorge Romero-Lozano, Lisa Scheff, Stephen Schwichow, Lauren Williams.

Committee Members Absent: Virginia Benavidez (excused), Kirsten Boyd (excused), Morningstar Vancil (excused).

Staff Present: Larry Brinkin, Cynthia Goldstein, Ellise Nicholson, Domenic Viterbo.

Guests Present: Tracy Boggs, Anne Cassia, A.K., A.L., M.R., J.S., Mitch Thompson.

Call to Order and Roll Call:

Commissioner Sparks called the meeting to order at 5:38p.m. Mr. Brinkin called the roll.

Approval of Minutes of July 15, 2003:

Stephen Schwichow moved to approve the minutes as written. Bill Kirkpatrick seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

Public Comments for Items Not on the Agenda:


Panel: LGBTQ Homeless Youth

Stephen Schwichow introduced the panel. He stated that the intent of the panel is to hear the real stories of homeless youth and discover the areas in which services are lacking. Panelists included Patrick Mulcahey from Most Holy Redeemer Church, Mitch Thompson from Eureka Valley Recreation Center (EVRC), Ann Cassia from Dimensions, Tracy Boggs from Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center (LYRIC) and four queer youth speakers: A.K., M.R., A.L., and J.S..

Patrick Mulcahey stated that homelessness among LGBT youth is the biggest, most urgent need of our LGBT community. Mr. Mulcahey started a supper for queer homeless youth in the Castro at the Most Holy Redeemer Church. It is an all-volunteer program that serves a three-to-four course dinner every Wednesday night. The program includes after dinner events such as movies, STD testing, clothing distribution, and legal clinics. Mr. Mulcahey stated that it is critically important to intervene in the lives of these youth when they first become homeless. Intervening early requires services that are currently lacking. Most specifically, Mr. Mulcahey stated that we desperately need a shelter in the Castro for LGBT youth. The Castro is very short on services. There is a shelter in the Mission, but that mostly targets Latino day laborers. Most queer youth don’t stay at this shelter. Mr. Mulcahey reiterated that what is needed is not a temporary emergency shelter, but a more permanent place to house LGBT youth. He explained that these youth need counseling, detoxification, rehabilitation, Hepatitis C and HIV treatment. These services require a much larger investment than one month in a temporary shelter could provide. Regarding Arc House, Mr. Mulcahey stated that it is more like assisted living, not a shelter. It has conditions, such as that residents must be clean and sober. Mr. Mulcahey also submitted written remarks (see attached).

Mitch Thompson runs drop-in at Eureka Valley Recreation Center for LGBT youth 23 and under. Mr. Thompson stated that if he could choose one thing that is most needed with regard to services for queer homeless youth, he would agree with Mr. Mulcahey that it is a shelter. When queer youth come in for assistance, there is nowhere he can send them for a place to sleep. While Arc House is great, it takes months to get into it. Nor is there a good place to send them for a shower, anywhere for them to put their belongs, nor access to any other major services. Larkin House is not queer specific, and most services that exist for homeless people in the City aren’t friendly or safe for LGBT youth, so they choose not to go there. They also have trouble at San Francisco General Hospital. Often times the hospital refuses to clean out their abscesses, or if they do they send them away with no follow-up care.

Anne Cassia works for Dimensions Health Services for Queer and Questioning Youth. Ms. Cassia stated that she agrees fully with the comments made by Mr. Mulcahey and Mr. Thompson. There is no young adult shelter where people can go and access services immediately. Unlike adult shelters, there are very few emergency beds where youth can just drop in. Adult shelters are difficult and scary for youth to access. San Francisco urgently needs a young adult rehabilitation shelter. Currently the only options are Walden House or Baker Place, both of which are mostly adult. Ms. Cassia explained that when you’re homeless, using speed is a good choice; on speed, one is no longer cold or hungry, and one can stay awake and guard oneself and one’s belongings. A lot of work needs to be done to educate neighbors and businesses in the Castro, because the reason there is no shelter in the area is because Castro residents and businesses opposed it. On a smaller level, Ms. Cassia’s wishlist for her program includes donations of soap, shampoo, and other products that homeless youth lack.

Tracy Boggs works at LYRIC. LYRIC offers a variety of services for young people. Mr. Boggs stated that the most pressing issue that LYRIC is currently dealing with relates to demographic changes. Namely, more homeless youth are suffering multiple oppressions. What’s most important for LGBT young people today is a comprehensive health center. Currently, queer homeless youth must go to numerous locations to access necessary services. Having these services in one location would make the lives of these youth much easier.

A.K. is a nineteen year old transgender youth intern with the Youth Gender Project. A.K. came to San Francisco a year ago and was homeless for some time. He stated that many young transgender people come to San Francisco because they believe that queers are tolerated here. They come fleeing domestic violence, abuse, hate crimes, and involuntary institutionalization (for being queer or having "gender identity disorder"). A lot of isolated young people would rather be with others like them even if it means being homeless. Many aquire criminal records from just trying to survive – e.g. for stealing food, hopping trains, buying street hormones and other drugs, and/or engaging in prostitution. A lot of services are segregated by birth sex, which creates unsafe situations for transgender youth. Once these youth have criminal records, they are afraid to access services. Many start using drugs to suppress hunger and cope with the difficulties of being homeless. Many deal drugs to survive, and then get physically attacked in drug-related fights. Older predatorial people exploit them, so they end up avoiding shelters, soup kitchens, and other services. Many squat in abandoned buildings where they are often sexually coerced. Coming out as queer or transgender in that culture subjects them to more sexual abuse and violence. A.K. told of an FTM person who was raped and beaten nearly to death and then had his dog killed in front of him when it was discovered that he was born female. Many homeless queer youth have trouble accessing medical services. Many are harassed for their gender. Many have sexually transmitted diseases and/or open sores, but find going to a doctor degrading because doctors often mistreat them, use wrong pronouns, etc. Many don’t go to the doctor because of outstanding bills. Many give fake names when they go to the doctor, which makes it hard to follow up. A.K. stated that he knows one nineteen year-old transgender person who is dying of lymphoma and doesn’t know where to go for medical services. At the same time, A.K. stated that many queer homeless youth differ from the older homeless population in that they are optimistic, and hopeful that they will get off the street.

M.R. has lived in San Francisco as a homeless youth for four to five years. He is currently a resident at Arc House. When he first arrived, he stayed at the Larkin youth shelter and with friends, and then was introduced to LYRIC. Before getting into Arc House, M.R. went to LYRIC five days a week for food and struggled with a drug problem. Arc House provides food, shelter, therapy, and assistance in finding a job, internship, and getting back into school. Youth can stay at Arc House for about 6 months, though that limit is going to change to 12 months in the near future. M.R. explained that Arc House is not easy to get into, and they will not accept people who are living on the street and using drugs.

A.L. is a former resident of Arc House. A.L. was sent to a mental hospital in Georgia because she was transgender. The hospital released her and put her on a bus. She came to San Francisco because she had nowhere else to go. A.L. stated that she accesses all of the services mentioned, and goes to EVRC (a LYRIC-sponsored drop-in program) almost everyday. She finally was lucky enough to get into Arc House, where she started her transition. There were many times she was almost discharged from Arc House, but she managed to stay and stated that they try hard to help get you everything you need. She was able to access hormones through her case manager at Dimensions. She stated that she is one of the lucky ones. She has a lot of friends who are not as lucky as her. They have nowhere to go because they’ve had such bad times at the adult shelters. A.L. is currently in transitional housing, and is hoping to get off the streets.

J.S. is twenty two years old. He was born and raised in Idaho by a "Christian Identity" family, which he stated is a very racist, anti-gay religion. When J.S. came out to his mother at age thirteen, she hit him on the head with a wine bottle and threw him out of the house. For some time, J.S. hid in small Midwestern towns and tried to pass as straight. Hiding such a big part of himself led to drug use, which he still has been unable to quit. J.S. watches friends killing themselves on a daily basis. These are people who have so much potential, but don’t know how to use it. J.S. stated that advocates like Mitch, Anne, and Patrick reach out and help people, but there are so few of them that they can’t get to everyone. Many queer homeless youth can’t see any way out of their situations, can’t look to future because they are too busy trying to protect themselves in the day-to-day. For example, everything J.S. owns is in his backpack right now. Every day he fights to keep that backpack safe and maintain his health. He is a methamphetamine addict and dealer. He was recently beaten, raped, and robbed in a drug-motivated crime. He feels that he just keeps getting into deeper and deeper trouble. People who reach out to help do an awesome job, but there are just not enough of them. EVRC (the drop-in program at LYRIC) is great, but it is only open from 3-6pm. That leaves him with nine more hours of the day to get through before he can get back up there for three hours and feel safe. Queer youth arrive in San Francisco with trauma and emotional baggage. J.S. stated that he is clinically bi-polar and paranoid schizophrenic. He feels that he can’t make it through the day without getting high. He has nowhere to sleep unless he sells drugs and has sex with people. He takes drugs in order to stay up at night so that he can protect his stuff. He would love to have a job. People think he’s lazy because he’s homeless. Community awareness is important. J.S. stated that he lives on the streets in the Castro, and is a resident of that neighborhood just like others who live there. The neighborhood needs to listen to homeless youth too. The Castro is full of little robots. J.S. stated that people are only accepted if they are a certain type of queer. People are willing to do anything to be accepted. At the same time, J.S. stated that the Wednesday supper program at Most Holy Redeemer is his family.

During the question and answer period, Sally Buchmann stated that she was shocked to hear that people are not getting good care at SF General. That’s an issue she’d like to help with. Anne Cassia explained that at the free clinic, many homeless youth are turned away because they have no identification. Ms. Cassia added that many kids are given a pharmacy card but not told that they can get it filled for free. There was also discussion of the necessity of having a full-service shelter in the Castro. Patrick Mulcahey mentioned that there is an empty building across the street from his church that would be perfect. Anne Cassia stated that before a shelter could happen, there will need to be a great deal of community meetings and discussions.

Commissioner Sparks suggested that the Committee form a three meeting task force to synthesize the issues and bring them back to the full Committee to see what we can do. Patrick suggested two last ideas: 1) that rehabilitation programs dedicate a number of beds for youth; and 2) that we start a community effort to hire transgender youth. Members Danny Kirchoff, Spyke Lawlor, Scott Campbell, Johnny Pratt, Jay Dwyer, Stephen Schwichow, Sally Buchmann, Julie Frank, and Ted Guggenheim volunteered for the task force, and will coordinate it with Mr. Mulcahey, Ms. Cassia, and/or Mr. Thompson.

Discussion of Racial Privacy Initiative:

Staff member Ellise Nicholson stated that the HRC report on the impact of the proposed Racial Privacy Initiative (Proposition 54) will be on the website by the end of this week.

Gender Identity Task Force Report:

Danny Kirchoff reported that the Task Force is still in the process of ironing out different potential provisions with the City Attorney. The Task Force meets the first Tuesday of each month. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 2, 2003.

Activism Task Force Report:

Jason Alley reported that the Task Force met last Tuesday. Due to scheduling conflicts of members, the Task Force is still compiling a list of potential co-conveners and crafting language for a final proposal that it intends to bring before the full committee, hopefully by next month’s meeting. The Task Force meets the second Tuesday of each month. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 9, 2003.

Intersex Task Force Report:

This Task Force had its first meeting where they discussed their agenda and goals, and spoke with folks from the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) to decide what issues the Task Force will grapple with. The task force meets the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 27, 2003.

Work Group on Impact of Budget Cuts Report:

Bill Kirkpatrick reported that the group hasn’t met, but that he has started clipping relevant stories. Because of the current flux of the budget, there is not much to collect now. Also, budget issues have been overshadowed by the Recall Election. Jason Alley distributed a report on the effects of cuts to the UC system. Commissioner Sparks is wondering if it is possible to get a similar report from DPH and other City organizations. Sally Buchmann stated that there are still some cuts being made to mental health and detoxification programs but that she is not sure of the extent of these cuts. Commissioner Sparks stated that Supervisors Chris Daly and Bevan Dufty have reported that 90% of those cuts have been restored.

Commissioners’ Report:

Commissioner Knutzen reported that at the last meeting, Commissioners received a Transgender 101 training given by staff member Marcus Arana. She stated that the training was well received, and that it gave Commissioners a sense of what Mr. Arana does out there in the community. The next Community Meeting regarding environmental racism will be in Bayview/Hunter’s Point tomorrow on the issue of industrial dumping and pollution.

Staff Report:

Larry Brinkin reported that LGBT Division Co-Manager Cynthia Goldstein contacted Supervisors Tom Ammiano and Bevan Dufty to request that they sponsor ballot measures to take care of some problems in the City’s domestic partner legislation. The proposed legislation would make changes to the domestic partner registration system to abolish the requirement that registrants live or work in San Francisco. This would enable the City to make money from people who pay fees to register, stay in hotels, eat in restaurants, etc., and would allow for registration of persons from jurisdictions without such registries. Currently, such a change has to go to the voters, so Ms. Goldstein also suggested legislation that would allow the Board of Supervisors to make changes to the domestic partner legislation rather than having to go to voters every time. She is also seeking changes to the City’s retirement system. Currently, domestic partners have to file one year in advance of death for their partner to receive benefits. In contrast, currently spouses don’t have to file anything, they simply have to have been married one year. The legislation would remedy this disparity. Mr. Brinkin reported that the LGBTH Division is participating in the "Books into Art Project" through the San Francisco Library, which is a project to turn vandalized books into art. Mr. Brinkin further reported that we are beginning work on an HRC annual report, which will include a discrimination complaint report. Regarding the LGBT Senior Issues Public Hearing, Mr. Brinkin reported that he recently sent out about 150 letters. He is starting to get calls in response to those letters, and will continue to churn out more letters. Mr. Brinkin reported that he will be going to Europe in September, so he won’t be able to attend the September Committee meeting. Staff members Ellise Nicholson and Domenic Viterbo will be staffing that meeting. Mr. Brinkin added that there will be an Introduction to Intersexuality training at the September 11, 2003 Commission meeting.

Old/New Business:

Commissioner Knutzen stated that she wants to get a panel started around marriage/property rights. Ted Guggenheim and Kirsten Boyd had expressed interest in assisting. Commissioner Knutzen invites anyone who wants to be involved to stay after the meeting tonight and set a time to meet.


Lauren Williams stated that she started law school yesterday. Sally Buchmann reported that Pride at Work is having an upcoming bi-annual conference. Danny Kirchoff stated that the Horizon Foundations deadline for its grant cycle is tomorrow. Ren Phoenix stated that there is a call for artists for female–identified artwork from the LGBT community for the Exiles meet and greet. Commissioner Sparks reported that two out lesbian police officers (Lee and Pat) were stabbed a couple of weeks ago. Lee is Chair of the SFPD Pride organization. Both are home now and are recuperating well. Johnny Pratt reported that there will be a benefit for the two women who were victimized at last year’s drag king contest at the Center this coming Saturday from 6pm to 8pm. There is a sliding scale fee. Transcendence Choir and Other Brothers are performing. Also, Transcendence Choir is having a benefit on September 6, 2003 at a big church on Lake Merritt. Their CD is up for a Grammy, and they are trying to raise funds to go to Montreal next summer.

13. Adjournment:

The meeting was adjourned at 7:40p.m.