Updated: Oct 14, 2020
The district’s Board of Trustees voted last Wednesday to approve a Bill of Rights for its LGBTQIA+ community.
By Gabriel Arizon, Editor-in-Chief
The Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees approved an LGBTQIA+ Bill of Rights resolution last week, calling for all nine colleges to promote equity and equality for their LGBT communities.
In an Oct. 7 Board of Trustees meeting held through Zoom, the district voted unanimously in support of their first-ever resolution for an LGBTQIA+ Bill of Rights for staff and students. The resolution calls for the district and colleges to: review anti-discrimination policies and procedures to determine possible changes that could better support LGBTQIA+ students and staff, celebrate LGBTQIA+ History Month every October and other events that bring visibility to the community, provide Cultural Responsiveness Training related to LGBTQIA+ issues to faculty and administrators, ensure the success of clubs such as the Gay Straight Alliance by the ASU and faculty advisors and use gender neutral language in six 2020-23 collectively-bargained agreements.
David Vela, the first open LGBTQIA Trustee in the district, chairs the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on LGBTQIA+ Affairs and is the one who raised the idea for the bill of rights.
“Today marks a momentous milestone in the history of LACCD where we are afforded the ability to provide protections to one of our most disadvantaged communities,” Vela said. “This Bill of Rights sets the standard for community colleges throughout the nation and will bring understanding and acceptance of LGBTQIA+ [persons] and LGBTQIA+ people of color, students and faculty.”
Before the board voted on the bill, members of the community joined the Zoom conference to voice their support and share what the resolution means to them.
“I have lived my life as an out lesbian and as somebody who puts themselves out there for other people to come and feel supported emotionally because I never thought I would live to see this,” said Rin Kahla, a professor of sociology at East LA College. “I appreciate all of the effort and I appreciate all of you that are going to make our students feel a whole lot safer and … recognized as full human beings.”
“Coming from a diverse background as a queer Latinx person, this bill will create a healthy learning environment that will foster comprehension, understanding and acceptance … [towards] people of diverse backgrounds,” said Jesus Suatan, a community organizer for the Latino Equality Alliance and a student at East LA. “This bill is about the academic success that will bring and give my community the educational equity that we need and deserve.”
According to the Los Angeles Blade, there are an estimated 10,000 students in the district who self-identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community. In the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2.5 percent of high school respondents identified as gay or lesbian, 8.7 percent as bisexual and 4.5 percent as unsure.
In a 2019 study by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation of LGBTQ youth in California, it found that only 26 percent always feel safe in their classrooms, 59 percent have access to a GSA support group and 32 percent say they can definitely be themselves at school.
“The district’s LGBTQIA+ Bill of Rights resolution is just the first step,” Trustee Mike Fong said. “We need to make sure the district and the colleges fulfill the promises made to ensure diversity and inclusivity are not just words on a resolution, but action.”