In Silicon Valley we pride ourselves on our progressive values, but as a candidate for Campbell City Council, many conversations I’ve had with those of us in the LGBTQ+ community have demonstrated that we have more work to do to truly lead in this area.
There are many ways in which our region has been ahead of the curve. Santa Clara County’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs is a national model, and we have a vibrant LGBTQ+ nonprofit community which works closely with local government. Yet Campbell can do more to be a leader in LGBTQ+ equality — here’s how.
LGBTQ+ individuals are disproportionately more likely to be
homeless or housing insecure. Despite questions about methodology, the latest Santa Clara County Homeless Point-in-Time Count showed a clear increase in the number of LGBTQ+ individuals in the South Bay, particularly among younger people. Just this year, the county opened a shelter to serve LGBTQ+ individuals. With 20 beds, the shelter is regularly filled with a waitlist to get in.
We should expand support for this resource, but our cities also have a responsibility to aggressively combat housing insecurity and affordability issues at their root. You can’t claim to be a progressive on gay and queer rights, while fighting against housing policy that has the potential to make a transformative impact for the community.
In my conversations with Campbell residents who are nonbinary, several shared uncomfortable experiences interacting with government staff due to unfamiliarity with their gender identity.
It’s important that local government and service providers have the training and education to serve these members of our community, especially as California has started issuing state IDs with a nonbinary marker this year thanks to recent legislation.
While we have incredible resources such as the Billy DeFrank Center and events like SV Pride that draw people from around the Bay Area, there remains a need for other spaces where LGBTQ+ folks can build community on a more casual, ongoing basis.
Local businesses could host regular or one-off events, and cities and nonprofits can collaborate to bring people together for larger ones. As trans historian Susan Stryker has documented, these kinds of spaces have been critical in helping build broader gay, queer, and trans movements which have driven policy and social change. At the same time, they’ll enrich and strengthen our South Bay culture and community as a whole.
Mental health is an issue identified by the Campbell Youth Commission as a major concern. I plan to implement a citywide mental health policy, inspired by San Jose’s model, in order to raise awareness, increase resources for treatment and prevention, and reduce stigma associated with mental health.
I will establish a Human Rights Commission, modeled after similar bodies at the County level and in nearby cities. It would take inspiration from the mission statement of the County Commission, in this case advising the City Council “on issues that affect the human and civil rights of all County residents and advocate for and take positive action to eliminate prejudice and discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, cultural background, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability or other factors.”
This would include issues of equity of many intersections of identity in Campbell, providing an evaluation on the equity of City policies and current access to City programs and services. It could also take inspiration from the models cities like Austin and Oakland have implemented in City Departments to combat institutional discrimination and improve the quality of life for their residents.
The Commission would, among other duties, draft and help execute an actionable plan to ensure all Campbell residents are receiving equitable support from our City government, regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, or background.
"As we celebrate and recognize National Coming Out Day, it’s clear we need elected officials and policymakers who represent and lift up the voices of all our communities."