Fellow: Maritza Martinez
Grant Year: 2019
Location: Oakland, California
Organization: Somos Familia
Project title: Accessible Gender and Sexual Orientation Education for Oakland Families
Project summary: Somos Familia aims to promote inclusivity and reduce the bias LGBTQ youth face by implementing a parent and family education program focused on gender and sexuality in public schools throughout Oakland, California. Despite significant policy progress on LGBTQ issues, including statewide legislation mandating comprehensive sexual health education inclusive of LGBTQ identities, for many families in the United States, gender and sexual orientation remain taboo topics. In fact, a 2018 Human Rights Campaign survey of LGBTQ youth found that 67% have heard family members say negative things about the LGBTQ community, and for Latinx and Black LGBTQ youth that percentage is even higher. Somos Familia will advocate with the Oakland Unified School District’s (OUSD) Office for Equity to implement the program in all schools in the district, with the potential to impact 3,000 LBGTQ youth, as well as all 50,000 students and their families in the district. Somos Familia will place a special emphasis on reaching Latinx students and their families through Spanish language materials, social media, and online meetups.
Because the OUSD ranks among the best school districts in the state for programs and policies to foster a safe and supportive school climate for LGBTQ students, it is a receptive location to pilot an advocacy strategy that can serve as a model in other cities throughout California.