Jennifer Walters of HMB chosen for county LGBTQ commission, first in the state

Jennifer Walters of Half Moon Bay has been chosen as one of the eleven inaugural members of San Mateo County’s new LGBTQ Commission. Richard Faust and Lynn Schuette of Pacifica were also chosen along with eight others throughout the county, including one youth representative.

The LGBTQ Commission was established in June of this year with the purpose, according to San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine, of furthering the “cause of inclusiveness, create a resource to help inform future policy decisions affecting the LGBTQ community, and serve as a model for counties and cities in the State.”

The Commission is thought to be the first such government body anywhere in California.

Jason Galisatus, a community activist who help to establish the commission says that LGBTQ citizens currently lack a voice in San Mateo County: “A perception exists that the LGBTQ folks in the Bay Area only flock to major urban cities like San Francisco or San Jose. 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….I advocated to create this commission as it will provide a forum for developing collaborative solutions to the problems LGBTQ people face.”

According to a county press release possible goals of the commission are:

•     Bringing greater recognition and visibility to the LGBTQ community in San Mateo County by supporting such events as the County’s Pride celebration.

•     Reducing harassment and bullying of LGBTQ youth in local middle schools and high schools.

•     Developing policy recommendations to improve outcomes for underserved and at-risk segments of the LGBTQ population, including youth, communities of color, non-English speakers, seniors, and immigrants.

•     Promoting transgender inclusion among private and public entities in San Mateo County including access to health care and to gendered spaces such as bathrooms and shelters.

•     Recommending initiatives to support LGBTQ families with children.

•     Taking positions pertaining to federal, state and local policies, programs, and procedures, and any legislation affecting LGBTQ individuals.

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