Issues of equality, fairness and fundamental rights continue to impact the LGBTQ+ community locally, nationally and globally. While last month’s signing of the Respect for Marriage Act by President Joe Biden offers some federal protections for marriages that are valid under any state law, it’s apparent there is still a long way to go before full equality is achieved.
It’s also apparent that, despite this recent political victory, there are still many efforts across the country to pass anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, inflammatory rhetoric directed at the LGBTQ+ community and deadly violence that specifically targets members of this community and the spaces where they gather. Recent reports show this “national pile-up of negativity” profoundly impacts college students, and I believe it is safe to assume others are similarly affected.
At San Jose-Evergreen Community College District, we have a long history of supporting LGBTQ+ issues and the LGBTQ+ community. The district was home to the first openly gay elected official in Santa Clara County when Ken Yeager was elected to the board of trustees in 1992. A short time later, primarily due to Mr. Yeager’s unyielding advocacy and work as a board member, our district became one of the country’s first public agencies to offer same-sex domestic partner benefits.
That support has continued over the years, including a board resolution proclaiming June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month, the creation of an Employee Pride Association and the outstanding work of René Alvarez at San Jose City College, Raniyah Johnson at Evergreen Valley College and many others who contributed to the creation of the district’s LGBTQ+ Community Development Plan.
In keeping with this tradition of support and advocacy, a draft board policy and administrative procedure on gender diversity and inclusion is currently working its way through our shared governance review process and will be brought to the board of trustees soon. Once completed, we will be one of only a handful of community college districts in the state to have such a board policy and administrative procedure.
I am proud to serve a district and a community with such a strong record of support for the LGBTQ+ community, and will work to continue to carry that legacy forward. It is imperative that all students, employees and everyone in the broader community we serve knows they are welcome within our district, and that we have the services and programs in place to meet their needs.
San José Spotlight columnist Raúl Rodríguez is Interim Chancellor of San Jose-Evergreen Community College District, which operates San Jose City College, Evergreen Valley College, the Milpitas College Extension and the Community College Center for Economic Mobility. His columns appear every first Wednesday of the month. He can be reached at [email protected]