Kevin Beiser returns to the school board
[Editor’s note: This news story first appeared in the Voice of San Diego on April 23. View the original article at bit.ly/2DEQj4J.]
By Andrew Keatts
Kevin Beiser returned to his seat on the San Diego Unified School District’s board Tuesday night, more than a month after he was accused of sexual misconduct by four men.
Beiser did not acknowledge the accusations during his first meeting since the accusations became public and spoke only once, to praise schools from his subdistrict that won a districtwide recycling competition.
During public comment at the end of the meeting, Beiser departed early and evaded questions from members of the media waiting to interview him.
Beiser issued a statement declaring his innocence and promising a vigorous defense against accusations he said were politically motivated when the accusations initially became public but otherwise has not spoken or appeared publicly before Tuesday’s meeting.
The rest of the board, with Beiser absent, passed a resolution calling for his resignation at its last board meeting. Only Trustee John Lee Evans, who introduced that resolution, acknowledged the issue Tuesday night.
“As you can tell, five board members are present this meeting,” Evans said, sitting next to Beiser. “You may recall the Board of Education passed a resolution two weeks ago calling for the immediate resignation of Kevin Beiser. That resolution still stands, don’t want anybody to be confused about that. We have had no communication with Mr. Beiser since that time, and Mr. Beiser has arrived on his own for this meeting.”
Since the accusations became public, both the local Democratic and Republican parties called for Beiser to resign, as did the San Diego Education Association, the district’s teachers union. A group of high-profile LGBTQ elected officials issued a joint-statement urging him to resign.
Tuesday’s board meeting was not the first indication Beiser had no intention of heeding those calls.
On Monday night, Patrick Ambrosio attended the Linda Vista Planning Group’s meeting as a representative of Beiser’s City Council campaign.
“I do know that he will be making a statement himself,” said Ambrosio, who is also Beiser’s roommate. “I do not have a date on that, I do know he will be making one. That’s one of the things to look forward to, hearing that.”
Ambrosio said he had nothing else to add to Beiser’s original statement denying the men’s allegations.
Asked if Beiser intended to resign or cancel his Council campaign, Ambrosio said “as of right now there is like I said not another time that I can – I don’t have the exact date that he’ll be making his formal announcements, but he will be making an announcement soon.”
LGBT Center receives Elizbeth Taylor AIDS Foundation Grant
The San Diego LGBT Community Center (The Center) was awarded a grant for $15,000 from The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF) in partnership with Macy’s. The grant will be used for a program called “Broadening San Diego’s Youth Education and Prevention Effort: Enabling San Diego Youth to #BeTheGeneration that Ends New Transmission of HIV.” This is a unique vehicle to educate youth about and prevent new cases of HIV in San Diego County.
“The Center is a powerful part of a collective effort to achieve an AIDS-free world, a world Elizabeth Taylor is still helping to realize through ETAF,” said Catherine Brown, executive director of The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. “ETAF and Macy’s are honored to support The Center with these funds to continue our aligned goals of health equity and zero discrimination for all people living with or at risk for HIV and AIDS.”
Through its Cause Marketing Program, Thanks For Sharing, Macy’s recognizes their responsibility to support disadvantaged communities and the needs of their neighbors.
Hate crime at North County LGBTQ Center
Sometime this past weekend, vandals decided to target the North County LGBTQ Resource Center. The physical damage was fairly minor, its flag pole was destroyed and their intended message of disapproval was received, processed, and discarded. Whether this was an intentional message of hate or it was just considered an easy and socially acceptable target of opportunity, the community stands firm on the ideals of love, equality and justice. The Center rejects this and similar acts of aggression and will replace them with more visibility, programming and organization.
Equality California to honor Jason Mraz
Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization, will honor singer-songwriter Jason Mraz of San Diego for his commitment to LGBTQ civil rights and social justice at the group’s 2019 San Diego Equality Awards on Friday, June 14. Mraz will receive the Ally Leadership Award and joins additional honorees, Assemblymember Todd Gloria (Vanguard Leadership Award), Nora Vargas of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest (Community Leadership Award) and Darlene Tando, LCSW (Equality Leadership Award).
“I am honored and happy to serve,” said Mraz.
Since 1999, Mraz has been mesmerizing audiences from coffee shops in San Diego to concert venues in Africa to the Grammy Awards, where he has won twice. The artist’s nonprofit, the Jason Mraz Foundation, has promoted inclusive arts education and equality since 2011 and he has been a vocal advocate on issues including LGBTQ equality, conservation, education and combatting human trafficking.
“We’re thrilled to honor such a passionate and dedicated friend to the LGBTQ community at this year’s San Diego Equality Awards,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. “Through his music and philanthropy, Jason Mraz has proven his commitment to the LGBTQ community and to the diverse communities to which LGBTQ people belong.”
The San Diego Equality Awards will attract more than 600 people to Humphrey’s By The Bay in San Diego for a special 20th anniversary celebration of key leaders who have made an impact on the movement to secure full lived equality for all LGBTQ people. The outdoor gala is one of five annual Equality Awards, with additional events held each year in Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Palm Springs. Tickets to the San Diego Equality Awards are available online at eqca.org/equality-awards/san-diego-2019.
Edie Windsor Scholarship
Edie Windsor is sponsoring a coding scholarship for LGBTQ women, non-binary and trans techies. In its fourth year, it is helping queer folks to break into tech with this scholarship. Learning to code is a life changing moment and Edie Windsor is ready to help. The complete application is online, and the deadline is May 15. Apply here: bit.ly/EdieWindsorScholarship.
The Center announces honoree for 2019 Harvey Milk diversity breakfast
The San Diego LGBT Community Center announced that the 2019 Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast will take place on Friday, May 17 from 7:30-9 a.m. at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront.
Each year, the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast brings together more than 1,000 San Diegans in support of justice and equality, and in memory of Harvey Milk. Milk, an influential civil rights activist and pioneering openly gay elected official, was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 before he was assassinated in 1978. In addition to celebrating the legacy of Harvey Milk, the Diversity Breakfast also provides an opportunity to recognize LGBT leaders and allies. This year, Kate Kendell will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. Kendell, the former executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, stepped down from her role in 2018 after more than two decades of inspirational leadership at NCLR.
“We are beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to honor and thank Kate Kendell for her years of commitment to our LGBT community,” said Caroline (Cara) Dessert, Esq., chief executive officer of The Center. “Kate’s brilliant legal mind, and her insistence on justice and equality for our entire community have impacted countless numbers of lives. Kate is the living embodiment of the dreams Harvey Milk had for our community.”
Now in its 11th year, the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast was the vision of San Diegans Nicole Murray-Ramirez and co-founders Robert Gleason and Dr. Delores A. Jacobs.
Proceeds from the event benefit The Center’s services and programs. Tickets are available at events.thecentersd.org/HMDB.
Massachusetts becomes 16th state to ban conversion therapy
With Governor Charlie Baker’s signature on April 15, Massachusetts became the 16th state to ban the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth, which attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The Senate and the House passed the bill earlier with broad bipartisan support.
Ben Klein, Senior Attorney for GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), issued the following statement:
“Conversion therapy is a disgraceful remnant of the mistreatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our society. It is based on the long-discredited notion that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is a mental disorder or abnormality.
“This law will protect youth from the significant harm inflicted by those who engage in the antiquated practice of conversion therapy. LGBTQ youth must be able to grow up in a world in which they can thrive and develop into adults under the same conditions as their peers. This bill is a proud moment in Massachusetts’ long history of creating a better world for all young people.”
Transgender asylum seeker must not be deported
On April 2, a coalition of national and local organizations including TransLatin Coalition, Amnesty International, and the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center called on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to stop the deportation of Alejandra, the longest detained trans woman at the Cibola County Correctional Center.
Alejandra fled El Salvador in 2017 to escape repeated extortion, threats and attacks. She was sexually assaulted by members of a transnational criminal gang as well as the Salvadoran military because of her transgender identity. Fearing it is not safe for her to return to El Salvador, Alejandra has been exercising her right to seek asylum to stay in the United States. She hopes to be reunited with her trans niece, who has already won asylum in the US.
“Alejandra should have been released on parole over a year ago. It is outrageous that she faces deportation after being denied fair access to protection and being kept in inhumane conditions,” said Bekah Wolf, attorney to Alejandra. “There is no reason why she should be in this devastating situation today.”
“Alejandra spent over ten years defending the rights of trans people in El Salvador. It is time for all of us, including the local community and human rights activists, to come together to support her. She should be free to do the life-changing work she has done for so many years.” Wolf continued.
Upon arriving to the United States, Alejandra was detained and placed in ICE detention at Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico. Her case is not unique, but it is emblematic of the situation many transgender asylum seekers face. Many are stuck waiting indefinitely in detention centers where they are at risk of ill-treatment because of their gender identity, medical needs, or trauma they have endured.
The coalition is calling on members, supporters, and activists to take action on Alejandra’s behalf by contacting the Deputy Field Office Director for ICE at 915-856-5510 and demanding to stop her deportation.
LGBT college student loses U.S. Army Scholarship
A GoFundMe page has been set up for Map Pesqueira, a freshman at the University of Texas in Auston who is pursuing a degree in Radio/TV/Film. A transgender cadet in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps, he received a national scholarship from the Army that would help fund most of his education. Because of the new transgender policy by the Trump administration, he is now barred from utilizing this scholarship. In 13 days, Pesqueira raised more than $26,000 of his $27,000 goal. These funds are going for the cost of tuition for the next year. For more information visit http://bit.ly/2J1UxXP.
Naval Academy bans transgender students
The Associated Press reported that the U.S. Naval Academy will ban transgender students from attending starting with the 2020 school year. The change follows the policy shift under the Trump administration to bar transgender persons from serving in the military. Midshipman Regan Kibby, currently enrolled is one of six service members suing the administration over its ban.
Supreme Court weighing in on LGBTQ Americans
The Supreme Court agreed to hear three cases testing the reach of Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act in protecting LGBTQ Americans from discrimination in employment.
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) worked to develop and advance legal arguments that both sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination come within the coverage of “sex” discrimination under Title VII, as in its 2017 case Cote v. Walmart, which resulted in the largest ever class action settlement on behalf of LGBTQ employees.