With the generous support of NetApp and PG&E, the Bay Area Municipal Elections Committee (BAYMEC) convened on March 29 with over 20 LGBTQ community and service-providing organizations from San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties to discuss shared challenges across the region and how we can better support each other as a community.
We have many successes to share with each other: the opening of a new community center; a countywide campaign of “Getting to Zero” new HIV infections; effective partnerships with local school districts to implement the FAIR Act. These types of achievements can and should be applied to the other counties in our region. We can do so by advocating together, celebrating one another, learning from each other’s failures and, when things inevitably get rough, by being there for one another.
The organizations that participated in the summit—like the San Mateo County Pride Center, the Billy DeFrank Center, the Santa Clara County Office of LGBTQ Affairs, Santa Cruz County’s Diversity Center and Monterey Peninsula Pride, among many others—are on the front lines of building a sense of belonging among and providing services to LGBTQ individuals in the four counties. Their perspectives are crucial for BAYMEC to hear and understand as we work to ensure that candidates and our elected officials are responsive to our community’s needs.
Our conversation focused on several key issues facing the LGBTQ community that cut across all four counties: youth homelessness, support for seniors, school climate and implementation of the FAIR Act, the needs of non-binary and intersex individuals and mental health.
No matter our individual organizational missions, these issues matter to all of us.
Only by working together will we have any chance of addressing the alarming fact that nearly 30 percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ-identified; or that LGBTQ seniors, many of whom fought for the very civil rights we enjoy today, are going back into the closet out of fear and loneliness.
Only by working together will we be able to change the fact that far too many students—LGBTQ and otherwise—are denied knowledge of the significant struggles and contributions made by LGBTQ individuals to our society.
Only by working together can we highlight and refashion the systems that discriminate against our nonbinary/intersex fellows, or can we address the tragic reality that LGBTQ youth are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers.
This is also not a comprehensive list of the issues we must address. Together, we will identify more in the coming months.
Many of these issues, by the way, are not unique to the LGBTQ community. The African American, Latinx and other communities experience similar challenges. We hope to work with them, too.
None of these challenges have a single solution, nor will they be solved overnight. BAYMEC understands that, and we are in this for the long haul.
The March 29 summit was just the beginning.