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Did Beverly Hills Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli lie to LA LGBT Center CEO Lorri Jean?

Looks like Spagnoli lied about crime stats, too

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Beverly Hills Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli (courtesy Beverly Hills Police Department)

“Meet Beverly Hills’s new police chief, Sandra Spagnoli,” wrote Amy Ephron in her chic-ish Aug. 2016 Vogue profile of the “33-year veteran known for her high ethical standards.” After an almost year-long search, Spagnoli had been hired five months earlier as Beverly Hills’s first female top cop, a position she previously held in the cities of Benicia in Solano County and suburban San Leandro in Alameda County.

The fawning article focused on those high standards. “’I think of myself as a volunteer,’ Spagnoli says, her almost aquamarine eyes fixed in a clear, constant gaze,” Vogue gushed. “’Every day I hear my father’s words. He grew up in Europe during the World War II era, and when I started down this path, he said, ‘Treat people fairly and don’t abuse that power.’”

“It’s a refreshing sentiment to hear from a police chief in these socially fractious times,” Vogue concluded.

Two years later, Beverly Hills Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli is the focus of more than 20 lawsuits brought by police employees alleging racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia. She is also the subject of the grassroots BHPD Crisis campaign—organized by  former Beverly Hills City Council candidate Vera Markowitz—to raise awareness about the lawsuits and the money being spent to protect the chief who has sworn to protect the city. Among other costs, the city settled a $2.3 million lawsuit last December filed by former Capt. Mark Rosen.

In fact, according to portions of legal declarations and depositions not under seal filed in court in the Rosen case provided to the Los Angeles Blade by his attorney Bradley Gage, in her first month as chief, Spagnoli “retaliated” against Rosen after he reported “unfair pay and discriminatory treatment of gay female employees to Human Resources (HR) and Chief Spagnoli.”

Another note in Gage’s presentation of “undisputed facts” filed Aug. 31, 2018 in Superior Court in that successful Rosen case was a declaration from Lt. Davis: “Lt. Davis refused to lower the evaluation of a lesbian employee over 40 years old when Spagnoli asked him to do so. In response, Spagnoli called him disloyal.” Later Davis declares that he “believed Spagnoli’s order was based on [employee Donna] Norris’ sexual orientation.”

In Gage’s Exhibit 11, Davis declares: “On or about spring 2016, Captain Tony Lee, Chief Spagnoli, and Lt. Davis were having a conversation. During the conversation, it was brought up that Donna Norris and her partner have a child. Norris’ domestic partner was referred to as her wife. Chief Spagnoli looked disgusted and said, ‘you mean she’s a lesbian?’ When Lt. Davis confirmed that Norris was a lesbian, Chief Spagnoli said, ‘ew, and gross.’ Then Chief Spagnoili said something to the effect of well don’t let her touch me. She also said, make sure she doesn’t stand next to me when they take photos for dispatcher appreciation week. The photos for dispatcher appreciate week never occurred.”

Gage says “there is actually more evidence that we cannot present because of protective orders or confidentiality laws.  We do look forward to trial on June 3 where all of the facts will be presented.”

Before the Beverly Hills City Council meeting on Feb. 5, Spagnoli had a phone conversation with Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri Jean, who had commented for a previous story Los Angeles Blade story on the chief. Jean says Spagnoli’s public affairs person was on the line throughout the conversation. 

“Basically [Spagnoli] was calling to tell me that the allegations are false. That she never said the things that she’s been alleged to say about one of the lesbians on the force. She told me that her mentor at the Police Academy was, as she put it, a ‘gay woman,’ and that they remain close to this day,” Jean told the Los Angeles Blade Feb. 13.

Spagnoli also told Jean that she had set up an advisory panel and she didn’t have anybody LGBT on it and she could use Jean’s help with that.

“Essentially she was defending herself against the allegations,” Jean said. “I told her that I felt that it was critical that an independent investigation be conducted into the allegations that were made because if the facts were as she said they were, then she would be vindicated by a truly independent investigation. And that was going to be very important—that an independent entity would look at this and reach some conclusions.”

However, Jean added, that alone was not enough. “So far, the public has heard nothing from her about what she believes—which is important for us to hear, in terms of knowing what the chief of police at the Beverly Hills Police Department believes. But even if she were uncomfortable talking about her personal beliefs—which I didn’t really understand why she would be—it was important that she make a statement at the very least about what was acceptable and not in the operation of the Beverly Hills Police Department. She needed to make it crystal clear that discrimination of any kind—including against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people—would not be tolerated.”

Jean said she explained why this is important, “not only for the many LGBT residents in Beverly Hills or the many families who have LGBT members but for those of us who regularly have events in Beverly Hills or travel to Beverly Hills who don’t live there. We needed to understand from her own words that we could expect the same level of protection and respect that everybody else gets in Beverly Hills.”

Jean said she offered help but “she has not taken me up on that offer yet.”

Jean also said that Spagnoli indicated that an independent investigation would be “forthcoming.”

Spagnoli has not made any pro-equality statements. Instead, the city released a PR-produced video in which she speaks directly to camera saying “it’s time to set the record straight.”

“As the men and women of our Police Department put their lives on the line each and every day, it is very difficult to standby and listen to the egregious statements and misrepresentations that have been made,” says Spagnoli. “When I was hired in 2016, the City Council wanted a culture change in the Police Department, most notably to address lack of accountability, low staffing and low morale….As a recent independent review of our police department confirms, we are on the right track. There is not a crisis in the Beverly Hills Police Department, the morale of the department is strong and our new crime prevention techniques are making a difference.”

Beverly Hills spokesperson Keith Sterling told the Beverly Hills Press that the Spagnoli video reflected “the city’s position on the campaign and the issues allegedly affecting the department.”

There was no mention made by Beverly Hills city councilmembers during their Feb. 5 meeting of a new statement or a new investigation In fact, Councilmember Robert Wunderlich said: “We have investigated robustly.”

“I’d like to assure our residents and I want to assure our officers that we would not and do not tolerate discrimination in the police department or in any other aspect of the city,” Wunderlich said. “I also would also hope that our city would have enough trust in us to know that we here on City Council do not tolerate discrimination.”

“Does anyone in our community actually believe the five of us would tolerate racism, anti-Semitism or homophobia? The answer is a resounding no,” said Councilmember Les Friedman. “We are opposed to anti-Semitism, racism and homophobia, and we will and have continued to investigate any claims in that regard.”

LA LGBT Center Public Policy Director Dave Garcia spoke at the meeting. “I reiterated the importance of a thorough and independent investigation that is as transparent as possible under the law,” Garcia told the Los Angeles Blade. “I also reminded the city council that the hate crimes report for LA was recently published and showed hate crimes on the rise, again, in most major cities around the country including Los Angeles.”

Garcia also noted that what the city council says about LGBT people matters, encouraging them “to be absolutely clear that they do not in any way condone homophobia,” he said. “The real proof will be in whether a truly independent and comprehensive investigation takes place.”

Wunderlich concurred with Garcia. “The rise in hate crime is unfortunately true and it’s terrible,” he said. “I also agree with gentleman when he said the rise in hate crime begins at the top. But no component of that exists on our city council. I really hope it wouldn’t be necessary to say this but you do have my support for the LGBTQ community….Serious allegations have been made, undoubtedly. And we treat them very seriously. We have investigated them robustly.”

Wunderlich noted that Spagnoli had organized a town hall the week before “publicizing that same hate crime and discussing the city’s response to the rise in hate crime.”

The Los Angeles Blade was not notified of any such town hall meeting. One question that might have been raised is whether the City of Beverly Hills actually keeps hate crime statistics, which are not officially listed in the police department’s crime reports.

On that, Rosen and Norris attorney Bradley Gage believes the city council believes Spagnoli’s report that crime is down in Beverly Hills when, in fact, it is up.

“During the recent City Council meeting, several citizens expressed support for Chief Spagnoli because of her claim that she has reduced crime,” Gage told the Los Angeles Blade. “That claim was made in a Press Release dated January 17, 2019 in which Ms. Spagnoli claimed crime is down (last sentence p. 1)  However, Trial Exhibit 536 dated, January 15, 2019  (2 days earlier) refutes the chief’s claims.  

“The Spagnoli memorandum attaches a Management Partner’s Report from October 2018 that discusses crime in Beverly Hills.  Starting at p. 12 you will see that in every category of crime reported, crime is actually going up under Chief Spagnoli, not down. It appears citizens have been duped,” Gage says.  

 “The Chief claims that morale is strong.  Yet, the City has been sued at least in part because of her actions by at least the following  people:   Lisa Weller (gay female);  David Brandon; John Doe; Keryann Hayes; Clark Fong; Greg Rout;  Alicia Johnson, Anne Lunsman, Dona Norris (lesbian), Mark Rosen, Mike Foxen and Shan Davis (three straight men who stood up for the rights of Weller and Norris and then were retaliated against in part because of seeking equality for all people regardless of sexual orientation)  Ren Moreno, and Tania Schwartz.  

“Many others have filed complaints with HR, or the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, but have not yet filed a lawsuit,” he continues. “I have seen three such DFEH complaints, and I am aware of several other employees going to HR with complaints.   Don’t you think with at least 14 people suing and around 20 total complaining there is a crisis?  How can morale be up with so many complaints?”

If the video is the extent of Spagnoli’s prized ethics? And if no investigation is actually “forthcoming,” will LGBT organizations such as the LA LGBT Center re-think using Beverly Hills as a venue for their gala events?  

Feb. 16 update: This piece was corrected to note that only portions of depositions not under seal and filed in court were provided by Gage and that all facts will be presented at trial on June 3.

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LACCD’s Next Generation of Pride, looking to the future

LA Community College students are true heroes overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds in pursuit of a college education

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Los Angeles Blade Graphic

LOS ANGELES – Sofia C. Zaragoza is a 19 year old queer Latinx student from the LACCD’s LA Pierce College. Zaragoza, an English major, is transferring from the Pierce campus to University of California, Berkeley in the Fall of 2021.

She has also been recently accepted in to the Mellon Mayes Undergraduate Research Fellowship where she will continue her research in English through what she calls “an interdisciplinary feminist lens.” In an interview with the Los Angeles Blade on Wednesday, Zaragoza told the paper that her passion for social justice, equity and literature led her to hold various positions in her college including as a Student Senator, a Chair on a Student Government committee, where she has maintained inclusion as her top priority.

She believes that her intersectional identity has led her to provide a diverse and enriching perspective for any and all activities which she is a part of. Finally, she hopes to eventually provide this same supporting, enriching environment for future generations of students through her career, she says.

“In many ways I think I was privileged- in high school (Grover Cleveland Charter High School) with the program I was in- also the Gay-Straight Alliance,” she said.

Sofia C. Zaragoza

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Unified School District told the Blade that it is committed to providing a safe learning environment for all of its students, so that in the case of Zaragoza, that commitment becomes foundational later on as the students enter college or continue on into a work environment. She told the Blade she did feel that support while attending Cleveland.

While attending LACCD’s Pierce she says she very much felt the support for her identity as a queer Latinx. The only elements she felt represented a personal loss was the interruption of her academics by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The biggest loss was the in-person, oh! and social interactions,” she said. She credits the educational opportunities that LACCD provided her as making admission to UC Berkley a reality.

Haunted by carrying the weight of navigating an often intolerant society as a gay, woman of
color, Nadia Noemi Martinez channels these ghosts both as an academic and as a writer.

Touching upon experience, vulnerability, and romance based upon these identities, her writing
attempts to capture these difficulties through vulnerable emotives and the embodiment of her
own intimate transparency with her readers, Noemi tells the Blade.

Nadia Noemi Martinez

“The LACCD system prepared me,” she said. “I found my ground, discovered, upholstered in life by my professors- letting me reach for what I will now experience.”

In addition to her own personal life experiences, Nadia dedicates much of her growth and self-discovery to the narratives and work enacted by the queer activists before her–and certainly to those who will come after. With an acceptance into Hunter College in New York City as an English Literature major this upcoming Fall, she will continue the importance of challenging the literary canon and the structure of higher education itself in relation to marginalized identities.

Her central belief that through the outlet of creating art, such as prose and poetry, is one of the most profound ways to express what is foreign to those outside the confines of a queer body. While she hopes for her voice and her experiences to be heard, she wishes for the narratives of those closest and dear to her, to be heard, too.

“It was the discovery at ELAC in that Queer Lit class that gave me foundations,” Noemi said.

A thirty-six year old single mom, with a bright sense of humor even as she battles a bit of a physical challenge, Jamey Dee, who told the Blade, “I choose to use “queer” to be all-inclusive” is grateful to LACCD and Pierce college for drastically improving her quality of life.

“LACCD helped me with my extreme dyslexia and made it possible for me to graduate Pierce college, which has been a blessing in my life,” she said.

“I would love to continue to work to help LACCD and Pierce college in the future with my Law degree. I am starting Cal Lutheran in the fall and then plan to go to law school,” she added. [California Lutheran University is a private liberal arts university in Thousand Oaks, California.] “I also want to help battered women and the queer community with pro bono law, as a way to help and give back.”

Dee told the Blade that she went to school to help herself grow and expand her business opportunities. From her adolescence in Ventura County to bouncing around the Pacific Northwest and then back to California, Dee said that her journey was difficult. But when she was finally settled in and enrolled at Pierce, it was the Disabled Student Program and Services (DSPS) office and a kind staffer named David Phoenix who finally identified her severe case of dyslexia and then worked alongside her to ensure her academic success.

That sense of accomplishment coupled with a greater sense of stability, and a loving partner, led to her successful graduation from Pierce. “It’s been beneficial, it has helped me, myself as I navigate my journey,” she said.

Jamey Dee

Michael P Fuller, LACCD’s Director of Institutional Advancement pointed out, “LA Community College students are true heroes overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds in pursuit of a college education.”

Fuller, also noted; “During the past year of unprecedented challenges, foundations and individuals have stepped up to make 2020 the most successful fundraising year ever for the Foundation for the Los Angeles Community Colleges.

In turn, the Foundation gave out more than 25,000 awards directly to students including laptops, grocery gift cards, food deliveries, internet hotspots, and grants for emergency situations.  These grants and awards change lives forever and affect generations to come.”

Troy Masters, publisher of the Los Angeles Blade said that the Blade Foundation, a 501C3 arm of the Los Angeles Blade and Washington Blade, will support an LGBT scholarship program through the office of Director Fuller aimed at developing the academic careers of LGBTQIA students who wish to pursue journalism.

“Supporting LGBTQIA youth who show promise as journalists and who value media for its ability to further social justice and the needs of our people is something dear to my heart. It’s time for my generation to pass the baton,” said Masters. adding “a scholars program to support community college students is the right way to go on so many levels.”

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Next Generation Pride; LACCD enacts LGBTQ+ student’s Bill of Rights

One of the important facets of campus life for an LGBTQ+ student is to ensure that the student feels safe and the environment is inclusive

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LACCD Trustee David Vela with students (Photo by Joshua Applegate Creatives)

LOS ANGELES – If a student’s life isn’t stable then they cannot be expected to learn and the immediate environment around that them is key says David Vela, the only openly LGBTQ+ Trustee for the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD). One of the important elements of campus life for an LGBTQ+ student is ensure that the student feels safe and that the environment is welcoming and embraces a feeling of inclusion, he notes.

In the Fall of 2020, Vela worked hard to ensure that the entire Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees approved LGBTQ+ Bill of Rights resolution that calls on all nine of the system’s colleges to promote equity and equality for their LGBTQ+ communities.

This was made difficult, he acknowledged, by the coronavirus pandemic. Yet during a Zoom conference on Oct. 7, 2020 the Board of Trustees approved his resolution.

The student-led newspaper The Valley Star, from the Los Angeles Valley College reported the resolution called for the district and colleges to review anti-discrimination policies and procedures and determine changes that could better support LGBTQ+ students and staff.

It also called on the nine colleges to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month every October, plus host events that bring visibility to the community. It also provides for Cultural Responsiveness Training related to LGBTQ+ issues for faculty and administrators and ensure the success of clubs like the Gay Straight Alliance. LACCD also implemented gender-neutral language in official documents.

The coronavirus pandemic also added additional strain and stress for LGBTQ+ students. Many LGBTQ+ students are still not out to family for a variety of reasons, primarily because most live in non-affirming home.

LACCD has an estimated 10,000 students who self-identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community, but a high percentage of that number rely on the safety and security of the colleges to be open about themselves.

Providing the sense of security for students is a priority for Felipe Agredano-Lozano,  the LGBTQIA Faculty Liaison for the Los Angeles Community College District.  Agredano-Lozano teaches Chicana/o Studies LGBTQ courses and Political Science at East Los Angeles college.

Agredano-Lozano told the Blade in an interview Tuesday that one of the many steps that were implemented to assist LGBTQ+ students at his home campus at East Los Angeles College was a simple symbol to let the students know that there were safe spaces and safe faculty members to talk to — a Monarch butterfly with Rainbow wings.

The Monarch butterfly Rainbow symbol represents important symbolism for trans people, representing metamorphosis. For gay men it is perhaps a little more poetic, evoking the glamorous beauty of the butterfly’s wings being hidden in a drab pupae, according to Meghan Hibicke, a Postdoctoral Researcher at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans.

But for LACCD students it is above all a symbol of safe spaces.

Agredano-Lozano noted that ‘wrap-around’ services is an absolute must. “Each student we have is different,” he said. “We need to account for LGBTQ+ students who are DACA students, or ex-offenders released from prison, or military veterans, or just homeless youth who wish to succeed.”

“We also need to adapt as a college community to the changing needs of our students. For example, on some campuses a ‘Gay-Straight Alliance’ club is now a ‘Gender-Sexuality Awareness’ club,” he said.

Agredano-Lozano, who started with the LACCD in 2001, marveled at the ever evolving landscape for LGBTQ+ equality and rights along with a wider acceptance societally for LGBTQ+ people. For example he pointed to the end of ‘Don’t ask-Don’t tell which allowed for open military service for lesbian and gay servicemembers. Then the 2015 Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges which made same-sex marriage a legal right, finally having President Joe Biden order the end to a ban on transgender military service as well as reestablishing other trans rights that had been eliminated by the previous presidency of Donald Trump.

But he cautions, there is still a long path forward such as one day having an Equality Act passed to protect LGBTQ+ Americans. He also acknowledged the challenges that he and other LACCD faculty and staff face in broadening the scope of their focus to be more inclusive of gender non-binary and gender fluid students.

Agredano-Lozano sees progress as organic growth, tracking from his earliest days dealing with no to limited visibility for LGBTQ+ students and his teaching just the one course of Queer Literature to encompassing a full slate- Chicano Studies, Queer Studies, LGBTQ+ history, and working hard to expand student clubs addressing multiple needs.

He is most proud of the ‘Butterfly’ safe zones for students which he sees boosting students academically as well as supporting their personal well-being.

Felipe Agredano-Lozano, LACCD faculty picture

“One of the areas that LACCD has really taken a leading role with is our Health Centers,” he said. Access to medical care for LGBTQ+ students is critical he noted. He also pointed with pride at the relationship that the LACCD has built with the Los Angeles LGBT Center which provides additional resources for the LGBTQ+ students.

In a return to the first part of the conversation Agredano-Lozano pointed out that the LACCD is the number one feeder for both the University of California and the Cal-State systems. “I think though, that we need to be looked at as more than a ‘last chance university’ or as just a basic college level 2 year degree,” he said. “For our students, we teach them to be resilient, that goals are attainable even with considerable adversity seemingly blocking a path. We teach them, and in our wrap around principles that success is achievable and that uniqueness is a positive trait.”

He pointed out that during the pandemic, even students forced to be at home in non-affirming environments still found creative ways to work around problems. “There were more than a few who attended class in the bathroom,” he wryly pointed out.

Last Fall when the LACCD’s LGBTQ+ Bill of Rights was passed, Trustee Mike Fong said; “The district’s LGBTQIA+ Bill of Rights resolution is just the first step. We need to make sure the district and the colleges fulfill the promises made to ensure diversity and inclusivity are not just words on a resolution, but action.”

Next, Part III: LACCD’s Next Generation of Pride

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Los Angeles

Next Generation Pride; LACCD plays critical role in their success

In its nearly eight decades, the Los Angeles Community College District has served as educator to more than three million students

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LACC Student Union building (Photo courtesy of LACC)

LOS ANGELES – It is entirely safe to argue that nowhere in the environs of higher education will a person find a greater reflection of the racial and ethnic diversity, jobless students, military-connected students, homeless and couch-surfing students, delayed-entry students, and older students than a community college. Also arguably a person seeking that diversity will also find a significant LGBTQ+ student body population.

As steadily increasing numbers students of color and first-generation students enroll in colleges, for many LGBTQ+ students a community college represents the first rung on the ladder of personal success by way of an attainable goal of a degree or certificate. A consideration of which is affordability which encompasses a whole person approach, especially for an LGBTQ+ identified student.

The First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden is a powerful education advocate and one who has on-the-job knowledge of the importance of higher learning having taught freshman English classes for a number of years in the Northern Virginia Community College system in suburban Fairfax County outside Washington D.C.. 

Earlier this Spring Dr. Biden, during a visit to Sauk Valley Community College in Dixon, Illinois renewed her call for affordable community college for all Americans who wish to attend, and also revisiting her support for free community colleges.

Speaking to students, faculty members, and staff, Biden noted that “Community colleges meet students where they are,” saying, “We can’t afford to exclude so many from continuing their education just because they come from certain areas or income brackets.”

“I am — first, foremost and forever — their writing professor, Dr. B,” Biden said. “In my class, my students don’t take anything for granted. Some are there for a head start on a four-year degree, others for a much-needed fresh start.” Biden said her students appreciate the affordability and flexibility of community college, and she understands the importance of education for overall economic growth.

According to research conducted by the American Association of Community Colleges, the average annual amount for tuition and fees for community college are $3,770, versus $10,560 per year for public, four-year college.

In its nearly eight decades, the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) has served as educator to more than three million students. Spread out over nine college campuses, LACCD educates almost three times as many Latino students and nearly four times as many African-American students as all of the University of California campuses combined.

The Los Angeles Community College District’s nine community colleges are located throughout an area of more than 882 square miles within the County of Los Angeles; Los Angeles City College, East Los Angeles College, Los Angeles Harbor College, Los Angeles Mission College, ​Los Angeles Pierce College, Los Angeles ​Southwest College, ​Los Angeles Trade-Tech College, Los Angeles Valley College and West Los Angeles College.

Eighty percent of LACCD students are from underserved populations and more than half of all LACCD students are older than 25 years of age, with more than a quarter who are 35 or older. 

The very factors that Dr. Biden pointed out in her speech at Sauk Valley Community College are core tenets for the trustees, faculty, and staff of the LACCD. Importantly as the LACCD notes in its handbook, “Community colleges serve adults of all ages, meeting the needs of a society where “lifelong learning” is the rule and multiple careers and continual retraining are the norm.”

Beyond those factors are the complications that arose from the devastating affects of the global coronavirus pandemic, especially financial issues.  Yet that term according to Inside Higher Education has dual meaning.

“Financial issues” can be a euphemism for deeper mental and emotional problems. Colleges need to be sure faculty and staff members are informed about all the potential signs of mental distress, as well as about resources for students who need support and assistance. Commuter and other students would benefit from campus counseling services online in addition to safely distanced in-person sessions. To meet overwhelming demand, colleges should consider adding services by online providers that work directly with counseling centers, Inside Higher Education noted in a July 23, 2020 article.

LGBTQ+ students face greater challenges

David Vela, the first openly LGBTQ+ Trustee in the LACC district, chairs the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on LGBTQ+ Affairs. On Monday Vela spoke with the Blade about the unique circumstances that confront LGBTQ+ students across all campuses.

LACCD Trustee David Vela on the campus of East Los Angeles College
(Photo by Joshua Applegate Creatives)

“The main focus for me as well as all of our trustees, the faculty, and staff is to ensure that the primary mission of the LACCD is met with each and every one of our students,” Vela said. “The priority is ‘completion,’ whether it is a certificate, a two-year Associate degree or successfully transferring the student to either the UC system or Cal-State systems to finish out a 4 year degree.”

Vela stressed that all of the LACCD students are assisted in three major ways; Academic, Housing and Food security and financial aid. ” Our colleges are the number one alternative to the UC system and as such we are a critical element of ensuring a student’s personal success,” he said.

The LGBTQ+ students in fact, like most of the minority groups on the LACCD campuses, are faced with unique circumstances. But in addition, their status with their gender identity or sexual orientation often will complicate matters.

One of the primary considerations is housing, especially for students of color. A study by the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law surveying a majority of providers of homeless youth services said that youth of color reported to be disproportionately overrepresented among LGBTQ clients accessing homelessness services.

Respondents reported a median 31% of their LGBTQ clients identifying as African American/Black, 14% Latino(a)/Hispanic, 1% Native American, and 1% Asian/Pacific Islander.

Access to safe spaces is a priority for LACCD says Vela. Beyond Housing security comes accompanying issues of broadband access and addressing food insecurity he added.

Focusing on safe housing by partnering with the City of Los Angeles, the County, and the State of California is an ongoing mission Vela told the Blade.

One of the primary ways to address these issues he said is by a total embracing of a student’s experience within the LACCD system. Of special importance is to promote equity and equality for the LGBTQ communities across all nine campuses.

Next, Part II: LACCD enacts LGBTQ+ Bill of Rights

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