News

San Mateo County creates LGBTQ commission

By Barbara Wood | Special to the Almanac

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors has voted to add one more citizens' advisory board to the 30 they have -- this time a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Commission (or LGBTQ Commission), which officials say is the first such county or city advisory board solely concentrating on the LGBTQ community in the state.

At their June 3 meeting, the supervisors unanimously voted to create the commission, which, according to a memo from supervisors Dave Pine and Adrienne Tissier about the commission, will "promote programs and policies that foster the well-being and civic participation of LGBTQ individuals in San Mateo County.

According to the supervisors' memo, a 2010 report from the University of California Los Angeles's Williams Institute estimated that there are 1,970 same-sex couples living in San Mateo County, with 13 percent of them raising children.

The county formed a working group to consider a LGBTQ commission in February.

A survey by that group found that outreach to vulnerable LGBTQ county residents, including youth, seniors and non-English speakers, would be an important issue for the commission to consider.

Other tasks that the commission might tackle, the supervisors' memo says, are promoting programs and policies that foster the well-being and civic participation of LGBTQ individuals in San Mateo County, including events such as the county's Pride celebration; reducing harassment and bullying of LGBTQ youth in local middle and high schools; and promoting access to health care and to gender-divided spaces, such as bathrooms and shelters, for transgender county residents.

The commission may also recommend initiatives to support LGBTQ families with children and take positions pertaining to federal, state and local policies, programs, and procedures, and any legislation affecting LGBTQ individuals, the memo says.

Jason Galisatus, a Stanford student who grew up in San Mateo, was one of those who worked to establish the commission.

"A perception exists that the LGBTQ folks in the Bay Area only flock to major urban cities like San Francisco or San Jose," he said in a press release. "But in reality, San Mateo County is home to a large number of LGBTQ citizens who currently lack a centralized body to express their needs to their local government."

Among other county commissions and committees are the Agricultural Advisory Committee, the Arts Commission, the Children's Collaborative Action Team/San Mateo County Child Abuse Prevention Council, the Commission on Aging, the Commission on Disabilities, the Commission on the Status of Women, and the Confined Animal Technical Advisory Committee.

The county supervisors are also advised by, among others, the Domestic Violence Council, the Fatherhood Collaborative, the In-Home Supportive Services Advisory Committee, the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council and the Youth Commission.

See the full list at bnc.smcgov.org.

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