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Political Notebook: Santa Clara Supes Approve $1M for LGBT Services

by Matthew S. Bajko

 Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager.
Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager.  (Source:Jo-Lynn Otto)

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has designated $1 million for LGBT programs in Fiscal Year 2017-2018, which starts July 1. The funding was included in the $3.4 billion general fund budget the board approved Friday, June 16.

Gay Supervisor Ken Yeager had sought the funding allocation, which includes money to hire a transgender community program manager and to offer a series of self-defense classes for LGBT residents of the South Bay county. It is the second year in a row that Yeager, the board's first and only gay supervisor, secured $1 million in tax dollars for LGBT services.

"I worked hard to ensure that it includes the proper level of funding for programs focused on the LGBTQ community," wrote Yeager in a note to his constituents.

As the Bay Area Reporter's online Political Notes column noted in May, the county is the second local government entity in the nation, after San Francisco, to have an employee focused exclusively on the transgender community and its issues. The person will be one of six new employees hired in the coming months to work for the county's Office of LGBTQ Affairs and with other agencies.

A portion of the funds will go toward the county's LGBTQ Youth Wellness Initiative, which will conduct a countywide survey of LGBTQ youth. There is also money for a new implicit bias training program for county employees to educate them about working with LGBT individuals.

The funding for the self-defense course is in response to the findings of the 2013 Santa Clara County LGBTQ Health Assessment that Yeager initiated and was conducted by the county's Public Health Department. It found that 10 percent of the 1,175 adult respondents had been attacked or physically injured in the past 12 months because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The LGBTQ affairs office will work with an outside contractor to develop the classes.

"Despite the fact that Santa Clara County is a diverse, cosmopolitan, and politically liberal region, LGBTQ people remain at high risk of being harassed, assaulted, or worse," wrote Yeager.

The budget also includes nearly $500,000 in additional resources for the county's Getting to Zero program aimed at ending the transmission of HIV in Santa Clara, San Jose, and neighboring cities. The funds will pay for new lab equipment as well as three new staff positions, which are in addition to five other new public health jobs that are in the county's fiscal 2018 budget.

"These new additions to the Public Health Department, when combined with the county-funded work of the nonprofit Health Trust, means that the Getting to Zero program will be fully underway by the end of 2017," noted Yeager. "We are a long ways away, but I believe we can get to zero deaths from HIV/AIDS, zero new infections, and zero stigma in Santa Clara County."


Milk Club Early-Endorses Beckles for Assembly

At its meeting Tuesday, June 20, the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club early endorsed a black Latina lesbian running for an East Bay Assembly seat.

As expected, San Francisco's progressive LGBT political group voted to support Richmond City Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles in her race for the open 15th Assembly District seat. The incumbent, Assemblyman Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond), is running to be the state's superintendent of public instruction.

The district includes the cities of Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Emeryville, Hercules, Kensington, Piedmont, Pinole, Richmond, San Pablo, Tara Hills, and a portion of Oakland. And a number of candidates have already kicked off their campaigns for the seat, including Oakland City Councilman Dan Kalb and former Obama campaign aide and White House staffer Buffy Wicks , who lives in Oakland.

Lesbian Berkeley school board member Judy Appel also plans to join the race but has yet to officially do so. Should an out candidate win the seat, they would be the first LGBT state legislator from the East Bay. And if Beckles is elected, she would be the state Legislature's first out black LGBT member.

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