“In this household, we believe Black Lives Matter, Women’s Rights are Human Rights, My Body My Choice, Science is Real, Love is Love, No Human Being is Illegal, Kindness is Everything.”
Variations of the yard sign with this message are common throughout lawns on the peninsula.
There is one in the yard of a landlord who evicted a tenant suddenly and without cause in a particularly nasty case I worked on earlier this year as an organizer for the Palo Alto Renters’ Association (PARA).
For many marginalized communities, this is the state of Bay Area politics. Your city might raise a pride flag, but they won’t necessarily pass policies that protect you. For an area known around the world for its LGBTQ community, much of the community struggles to live here and LGBTQ spaces are few and far between on the peninsula.
Ensuring a community can thrive here starts with passing policies that allow them to live here. In Santa Clara County, about one-third of the homeless population under the age of 25 is LGBTQ. How does this happen?
Right now, California is in a housing shortage. This shortage has forced most young people to live at home to save money, but if your home is actively transphobic or homophobic, then you may easily end up with no place to live.
Cities have to combat this housing shortage by building more homes, ensuring many homes are designated affordable housing and passing protections for renters, individuals living in their car and those who currently do not have a place to live. Peninsula suburbs have a long history of not taking action.
As an organizer for PARA, it was common to hear renters move into a home, only to have a landlord grow cold when they realized the tenant was a member of a marginalized community, and would soon be served an eviction notice.
It’s not enough to put up a sign that says, “In this household we believe hate has no home here” if your landlord realizes you are LGBTQ and can quietly serve you an eviction without cause.
Even if you are fortunate enough to live here, it does not necessarily mean you will find the space to grow and thrive.
In Redwood City, downtown nightlife is active, but when a gay bar tried to open several years ago no landlord would take them. In Palo Alto Unified School District, the California Healthy Kids Survey shows a notable number of students are LGBTQ, but there is no pride celebration in Palo Alto or any LGBTQ community spaces—and the only LGBTQ youth centers are in San Mateo and San Jose.
The Bay Area is known around the globe for its diversity, and we must protect that diversity.
Build housing and pass renter protections that ensure everyone can live here, open LGBTQ businesses in the suburbs, hold pride parades in Palo Alto and open LGBTQ youth centers.
Katie Causey is a lead at Peninsula For Everyone and a former community organizer for the Palo Alto Renters’ Association.