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Ex-CHP officer receives $2.2 million after agency settles anti-Gay case

Brome sued CHP alleging that the pattern of discrimination and anti-gay harassment violates California’s Fair Housing and Employment Act

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Jay Brome (Screenshot via SacBee video clip)

BENICIA, Ca. – A twenty year veteran California Highway Patrol officer who sued the agency after he was forced to leave in January 2015 on medical stress leave after years of constant anti-gay harassment, settled out of court with the CHP for $2.2 million.

Jay Brome, agreed to the settlement after a lengthy, contentious legal fight that went through three courts and was set for trial when the agency agreed to settle, the Sacramento Bee reported Thursday.

Brome, who now runs the Pocket Monkey Vintage clothing store in Benicia, told the Bee that the settlement of his long-running case was “a huge relief.”

“I feel that I won justice,” Brome said. “And justice is not the outcome, it’s the process.

“They deposed me on four different days and I was able to articulate everything that happened to me.”

His attorney, San Francisco-based Gay Grunfeld told the Bee, “I am so happy for Jay Brome. He is one of the most resilient, hard-working, dedicated people I’ve ever had the opportunity to represent.

“He never gave up on this case. He sat through all these depositions where people said negative things about him. They couldn’t do anything about his performance, which was superb, so some of the lieutenants and sergeants we deposed would try to say he was too reserved or other personal attacks.”

The CHP declined comment on the settlement.

As an out gay man, Brome experienced constant harassment and mistreatment from fellow officers and superiors throughout his career, including verbal insults, refusals to provide back-up, and denials of career opportunities.

Brome sued CHP in state court and alleged that this pattern of discrimination and harassment violates California’s Fair Housing and Employment Act, which prohibits discrimination based an employee’s sexual orientation. The Solano County Superior Court dismissed the case, and Brome appealed.

On August 13, 2019, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, joined by five other groups dedicated to ensuring the equal treatment of LGBTQ people, filed an amicus brief in support of Brome.

The amicus brief details the history of homophobia in law enforcement and ongoing effect homophobia has on law-enforcement agencies throughout California and across the country. Because of the very serious harms caused by homophobia in law enforcement–to the officers and LGBTQ community–the brief also discussed the important role that courts play in addressing those harms.

On January 23, 2020, the California Court of Appeals heard oral argument on the appeal. On January 28, 2020, the California Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision and reinstated Jay Brome’s complaint. On January 28, 2020, the California Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of the complaint and remanded the case for trial.

According to the Bee, the case was headed for trial with Grunfeld, Ells and attorneys Priyah Kaul and Benjamin Bien-Kahn when the CHP agreed to settle in July and paid Brome the $2.2 million last week.

During discovery proceedings in the lawsuit, Brome’s legal team found that the CHP’s promotion process did not take into account whether officers had faced discrimination complaints, Grunfeld’s law firm said in a statement.

The Bee also noted that Grunfeld said she still is waiting for the CHP to turn over emails sought through public records act requests, but added that the agency indicated it had found 83,000 hits for emails containing phrases like “gay pride,” “homophobia,” “Demi Moore” and others.

“The Public Records Act requests for emails containing the words ‘fag’ or ‘faggot’ are still pending,” the law firm’s statement said.

Grunfeld told the Bee she considers it “shocking” that the CHP still does not have an ombudsman or support group aimed to helping officers in the LGBTQ community, saying that “illustrates the lack of accountability in the organization.”

And she said she hopes the amount of the settlement will lead to reforms in the agency.

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California

Names of Trans dead projected onto Netflix HQ

2021 was the deadliest year of violence against LGBTQ+ people since records began- greatest harm to Black Trans women, migrants & sex workers

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Activists projects names of trans dead on Netflix HQ (Photo by Alan Marling)

LOS GATOS – On the Trans Day of Remembrance, the names of trans people who died this year were projected onto Netflix’s Silicon Valley headquarters.

The words of light were visible from Winchester Boulevard, over the archway entrance to the headquarters. Earlier this year, Netflix was criticized for spreading transphobia as well as for firing a trans, Black, pregnant employee for organizing a walkout. 

Local trans activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith said of the projection, “The CEO of Netflix, Ted Sarandos, spoke earlier this year in defense of Dave Chappelle’s comedy special, ‘The Closer,’ stating that, ‘We have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.’ It is a fitting rebuttal, therefore, that the names of those who were murdered in the name of anti-transgender violence end up projected on the walls of Netflix’s offices. Perhaps this will serve as a reminder that there are, indeed, real world consequences to consider when you platform transphobia disguised as comedic expression.”

2021 was the deadliest year of violence against gender-diverse people since records began, with the greatest harm done to Black trans women, migrants, and sex workers. The recorded number of 375 deaths is likely also severely underreported, according to Transrespect Versus Transphobia Worldwide. 

“I cancelled my Netflix account,” said local projection activist Alan Marling, “but I’ll be happy to renew it once the company meets the demands of the walkout.”

The demands include investment in trans and non-binary voices, acknowledging the harm done, and hiring of a trans executive.

The full list can be found here.

Video by Alan Marling

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California

At West LA VA Medical Center, Newsom announces new partnership

Governor Newsom also issued a proclamation that declared November 11, 2021, as Veterans Day

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Governor Newsom speaking with a vet at the West LA VA Medical Center (Photo credit: Office of the Governor)

LOS ANGELES – Ahead of Veterans Day, California Governor Gavin Newsom visited veterans receiving COVID-19 vaccines and flu shots at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center Wednesday, where he highlighted the state’s ongoing efforts to increase vaccination rates and promote booster shots for eligible populations and investments to address veterans’ homelessness. 

Joined by California’s U.S. Senator Alex Padilla, California Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. Vito Imbasciani, and California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, the Governor also announced a $750,000 donation from Lennar Homes and Five Point Communities that will purchase 86 tiny homes for veterans on the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus to help ensure that veterans have a safe and dignified place to live. Most of the veterans from the “Veterans Row” encampment at San Vicente and Wilshire recently moved onto the campus. 

“California is home to over 1.6 million veterans, the most of any state in the nation. We’re continually working to ensure that our veterans and their families receive the resources and support they need and have earned many times over,” said Newsom. “Thanks to a partnership between California, the VA and Los Angeles County, more veterans in the region have a safe place to go to receive mental health services and health care, including their COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccines are how we end this pandemic, and boosters are how we keep our immunity strong.”

The Governor also issued a proclamation declaring November 11, 2021, as Veterans Day.

The West LA VA Medical Center administers 90 to 100 boosters on-site daily through walk-ins or by appointment, and is still administering first and second vaccinations regularly. The VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (VAGLAHS), which includes the West LA center, is one of eight VA Healthcare Centers in California and offers services to veterans residing in five counties in Southern California. VAGLAHS is organizing a number of outreach events and efforts to vaccinate all veterans and eligible individuals.

The Governor & Senator Alex Padilla visited the West LA VA Medical Center to announce a new tiny homes project, and promote vaccinations. (Photo credit: Office of the Governor)

The Governor today also announced a partnership with the Hilton Foundation on a $69,000 grant to provide coordinated services to veterans to find more permanent housing. The announcements build on the Governor’s unprecedented $22 billion investment to address housing and homelessness, including $12 billion for homelessness and behavioral health services to help get tens of thousands of people off the streets or avoid homelessness altogether. This package includes $25 million specifically for homeless veterans services and $20 million to support the West LA Veterans Affairs campus.

Administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development in collaboration with the California Department of Veterans Affairs and the California Housing Finance Agency, the Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program (VHHP) finances the development of a variety of rental housing for veterans and their families, and has announced three awards today that are part of the West LA campus. VHHP will fund 189 of the 192 units, with awards for the three programs totaling $39.6 million.

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California

Equality California Safe & Supportive Schools LGBTQ+ survey launches

To ensure the future success of LGBTQ+ youth in schools and the workforce, communities need policy that addresses equitable education

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Graphic courtesy of the Grant Halliburton Foundation

LOS ANGELES — As students across California settle back into the routine of in-person learning, Equality California Institute sent its second Safe and Supportive Schools Survey  to each of California’s 330 unified school districts.

Backed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and with pro bono support from Latham & Watkins LLP, the Survey will evaluate the efforts of unified school districts to implement laws and policies that support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer+ (LGBTQ+) students; to develop programs to protect LGBTQ+ students from bullying and violence; and to serve at-risk LGBTQ+ students. 

Results from the survey will be published in Equality California Institute’s second Safe and Supportive Schools Report Card in Fall 2022. The 2019 Safe and Supportive Schools Report Card be accessed online at safesupportiveschools.org

“We created the Safe and Supportive Schools Survey to help shine a light on the successes and challenges that California schools say they are experiencing when implementing LGBTQ+ inclusive programs and policies,” said Equality California Institute Executive Director Tony Hoang. “Equality California has sponsored a number of laws in California designed to protect LGBTQ students. However, we know laws must be implemented in order to be effective, and we must meet more than the basic legal requirements to achieve schools that are safe and supportive and that give every student — regardless of background, zip code, sexual orientation or gender identity — a shot at success.”

Across California, LGBTQ+ people are experiencing a crisis in health and wellbeing, and these disparities often take root in childhood. LGBTQ+ youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their non-LGBTQ+ peers, and are 120% more likely to become homeless than their straight peers. They also experience higher rates of violence, harassment and bullying, contributing to decreased school attendance and higher school drop-out rates.

These inequities affect LGBTQ+ people across their lifetime, making it more likely that they will experience poverty, ill-health, homelessness, substance use, and other challenges. 

To ensure the future success of LGBTQ+ youth in schools and the workforce, our communities need policy and programming that addresses equitable education, increases LGBTQ+ acceptance through cultural competency, promotes youth leadership and prevents bullying and harassment for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The survey, which is comprised of 88 questions, gathers critical information on school climate, teacher training, curriculum, anti-bullying, suicide prevention and other policies essential to providing a welcoming and affirming learning environment to all students, including those who identify as LGBTQ+. 

Responses are due by March 25, 2022. The final Safe and Supportive Schools Report Card will serve as a resource to all community members who seek to advocate for inclusive programs and policies that benefit all students. 

Parents, teachers, students and community members can help support this effort by writing to their school districts and urging them to complete the survey. 

A sample postcard is available for download at eqca.org/schoolspostcard.

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