Santa Clara County stands up for gender-affirming care
Eli Dinh, who pushed for LGBTQ rights in San Jose's largest school district, is excited to see the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors take a supportive position on the issue. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

    Santa Clara County elected officials are vocalizing support for the LGBTQ community as school districts across California and the country are instituting policies harming these students.

    The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution yesterday in support of gender-affirming care—social, psychological, behavioral and medical practices aimed at supporting a person’s gender identity. The action expresses the county’s commitment to providing such care and for legislation that protects access to it.

    Gabrielle Antolovich, board president of the Billy DeFrank LGBTQ Community Center in San Jose, said the action will help the LGBTQ community, specifically transgender and non-binary people, avoid becoming cynical toward elected officials as more policies across the state target those who are LGBTQ.

    “It’s good to see elected officials taking a positive stance for our community,” Antolovich told San José Spotlight. “It brings back that confidence that there are elected officials that support who we are and that is very meaningful.”

    Across the country, LGBTQ people have struggled to gain recognition in leadership positions and have been particularly underrepresented in government and other institutions across Santa Clara County. In 2013, a county health assessment reported about 4% of Santa Clara County’s population was estimated to be a part of the LGBTQ community. The 2013 study is the most up-to-date county data about the local LGBTQ community. That same assessment revealed nearly half of transgender residents who responded to the survey had debated suicide or self-harm in the past 12 months.

    The passing of the resolution comes a day after California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed a lawsuit against the Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education for approving a policy to require teachers to tell parents if their child identifies as transgender or goes by a different name or pronoun. School districts in Riverside County have adopted similar parent informing policies. These moves have come as more anti-LGBTQ policies have been pushed by school board members across California, according to Antolovich.

    The county’s commitment also comes days after the San Jose Unified School District unanimously passed a resolution supporting the freedoms and equality of LGBTQ students and staff due to the persistent efforts of Eli Dinh, a parent and former SJUSD teacher. The school board condemned homophobia and transphobia, and members said they will ensure laws are upheld so community members feel safe and welcome.

    The school district added it would regularly assess and strengthen school climate, implement consistent nondiscrimination, anti-bullying and harassment policies, verify that curriculum is inclusive and make sure professional development and community resources are available. Dinh brought attention to the issue by penning a petition and organizing a rally in the spring to fight for LGBTQ student rights.

    Dinh said that it is important for the supervisors to take this step to show they are loudly defending and standing up for those in the LGBTQ community.

    “I’m excited to see the leadership that the county board of supervisors is taking by doing this,” Dinh told San José Spotlight. “We needed this ally-ship long ago and we need actions related to these philosophical statements immediately.”

    Supervisor Susan Ellenberg said the county is committed to improving the quality and accessibility of care for all transgender and gender expansive youth.

    “(We) will not sit on our collective hands while fear mongering and legislative bullying around gender-affirming care slithers across the country,” Ellenberg told San José Spotlight. “These policies inflict direct harm on our children, their families and their future.”

    Contact Julia Forrest at [email protected] or follow @juliaforrest35 on Twitter.

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