(Oakland, CA) -- On Saturday, April 30th various youth-serving organizations came together in the East Bay to host The Time is Now, a LGBTQI youth of color summit. Destiny Art Center's QEAR artists Eshe Sukura, Jada Bean and Gabriel Christian opened the summit with performances before youth attended breakout sessions. These sessions covered many important topics for LGBT youth of color, including using writing as a tool for healing after experiencing injustice, creating healthy relationships, examining and exploring gender through art, and developing self-care practices.
Last Saturday, GSA Network youth leaders in the Central Valley came together for the Expression Not Suppression (ENS) conference in Fresno. This annual conference has become a part of LGBTQ youth life in the central valley, with many participants coming multiple years and some of them even volunteering to help run the event.
As a multi-racial, Black and Indigenous, Trans-Gender-Non-Conforming femme youth of color and advocate, I am immensely appreciative of the opportunity to have represented youth inclusion and movement at the announcement of Transform California on Monday, April 18 alongside Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, West Hollywood Councilwoman Lindsay Horvath, Transgender Law Center Executive Director Kris Hayashi, Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur, TransLatina Coalition Member Maria Roman, and community activists and allies.
Transform California is an unprecedented public education campaign spreading awareness and equality for transgender and gender nonconforming Californians. Founded by the Transgender Law Center and Equality California and led in development by 30 organizations, including GSA Network, Gender Justice LA, Familia Trans Queer Liberation Movement, TransLatina Coalition, ACLU of Southern California, and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Transform California is at the vanguard of the growth, development, and wellness of our intersecting communities and in the intersecting movements of equality.
GSA Network evolves its name to be more inclusive of all LGBTQ+ youth leaders
This afternoon, Santee Education Complex in Los Angeles announced the opening of the first gender-neutral restroom in Los Angeles Unified School District. The youth-led campaign, “It’s Just a Toilet,” initiated the change, which Dean of Students Jose Lara supports.
Last Saturday we kicked off our first of GSA Advocacy & Youth Leadership Academy (GAYLA) of the year with our Northern California regional youth leaders. The day was focused on how youth can use their experiences and their voices to push for state policies that promote equity for trans and queer lives, especially for people of color.
GSA Network youth leaders attended an event hosted by Congressman Mike Honda today on protecting the rights of trans students. The Transgender Equality Task Force Roundtable convened a group of LGBTQ leaders in San Jose to discuss how to prevent sex-based discrimination against transgender students in school and suicide prevention.
Ginna Brelsford, co-executive director for the GSA Network, spoke on the panel, as well as representatives from Transgender Law Center, Gender Spectrum, the Trevor Project and National Center for Lesbian Rights. The audience for the round table included parents and school board members from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and San Jose.
The conversation about protecting trans students from unfair targeting and punishment in schools focused on a recent decision from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights that affirmed the inclusion of gender identity and gender expression in Title IX protections.
Following months of organizing, including students protesting by wearing dresses to school and a student-led petition signed by more than 3,500 people, Clovis Unified students will start to see some progress on a long-outdated dress code. The school board voted tonight to take out gendered parts of the student dress code that banned male students from wearing earrings and dresses. The ban catalyzed an organizing effort on behalf of GSA student leaders, parents and ACLU advocates because of its potential to put trans and gender nonconforming students at risk of targeting and discriminatory punishment by school administrators.
March 31 was Trans Day of Visibility, and many of our GSA Network youth activists took time out to celebrate our community. In particular, the GSA Network Northern California region held an open mic in downtown Oakland, and the California TRUTH (Trans Youth) Council created a video discussing why trans visibility is so important--and why we need more than visibility for our trans communities. Check out the photos and video below!
Earlier this month, we joined the GSA Network as the new communications team. We are excited to join this network of more than 1000 GSA clubs throughout the state of California, as well as the National Association of GSA Networks, which includes 41 member organizations supporting LGBTQ youth in 40 states or across the country.