Equality California Institute’s Safe and Supportive Schools Report Card shines a light on some of the successes and challenges that California unified school districts said they are experiencing when implementing LGBTQ+ inclusive programs and policies. The data informing the Report Card was gathered through Equality California Institute’s inaugural Safe and Supportive Schools Survey, which was created with the support of the law firm Latham & Watkins, LLP and an advisory board of educators and advocates and distributed to all 343 unified school districts throughout the state.
For two decades, Equality California has worked to sponsor and pass pro-equality state legislation in Sacramento. Many of the bills that Equality California has successfully sponsored and passed into law include protections for LGBTQ+ students and require programs aimed at making California schools safer and more supportive. But our work does not end at the Capitol. 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.
We created the Safe and Supportive Schools Survey in 2017 to help us measure whether or not California unified school districts have these concrete policies in place. While certain districts reported that they have made great strides, other districts reported that much work remains to be done in their schools.
Equality California Institute is partnering with AmeriCorps and the Fresno Unified School District to launch a unique mentorship program designed to offer support to LGBTQ+ students. Equality California Mentorship Corps will build on the civil rights organization’s Safe and Supportive Schools initiative by deploying trained, culturally competent mentors to California's third largest school district. By providing additional support to students, assisting teachers, counselors and other professionals through a combination of virtual in-class and after-school programs, Equality California Mentorship Corps members will provide Central Valley students the assistance they may need to improve their social and emotional well-being which can significantly reduce depression and improve academic performance and grades.
The LGBTQ+ Leadership Academy is an advanced program designed to identify LGBTQ+ leaders and to support them in becoming effective agents of change. Through a combination of ‘in person’ trainings, mentorship and opportunity identification, Equality California Institute conducted two LGBTQ+ Leadership Academies in 2019 — one for emerging LGBTQ+ leaders in Northern California and one for emerging LGBTQ+ leaders in Southern California.
Equality California Institute and the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus hosted the first annual California LGBTQ+ Leadership Summit in March 2019. The Summit brought together — for the first time ever — nearly 200 openly LGBTQ+ elected and appointed officials from across California to discuss key policy priorities for the LGBTQ+ community and provide leadership and networking opportunities.
With the generous support of the Comcast Foundation, Equality California Institute hosts an annual class of summer legislative fellows
in Sacramento where they spend four weeks experiencing the policymaking process firsthand and networking with the state capital’s top LGBTQ+ leaders. After a competitive application process, we select six undergraduate fellows from across California and coordinate their placements in the Sacramento offices of pro-equality legislators. Fellows gain first-hand experience working with legislators, policymakers and their staff and develop key leadership skills. Fellows also meet with prominent community members and LGBT leaders from diverse backgrounds to learn about how advocacy and public service can fuel meaningful policy change.
Fair Share for Equality brings together hundreds of LGBTQ+ community leaders, elected officials and policymakers from across California to address the widespread disparities that LGBTQ+ people face, and to work to allocate a “fair share” of budgetary resources to advance the health and well-being of California’s LGBTQ+ community. A full day conference is held each year in either Sacramento or Los Angeles. Critical findings and program recommendations from the event are compiled into a report that is delivered to the governor’s office, members of the legislature, and other federal, state, and local government officials.
Equality California Institute's Health Happens With Equality program gives healthcare providers the tools and training they need to understand the unique needs of LGBTQ+ patients and increase delivery of culturally competent care. Through Health Happens with Equality, we have trained over 2,400 health-care providers at more than 100 clinics and healthcare organizations across California, Nevada and Arizona, established health action teams with partner LGBTQ+, healthcare and immigration organizations from across the state focused on meeting the unique healthcare needs of each community, and convened community town halls in cities across the state focused on LGBTQ+ healthcare and navigating the changing landscape of access to care under the Trump-Pence Administration.
For decades, Big Tobacco has preyed on the LGBTQ+ community, targeting us through their marketing campaigns, getting us hooked on their deadly products. As a result LGBTQ+ people are more than TWICE as likely to smoke as our non-LGBTQ+ peers, and nearly 30,000 LGBTQ+ people across the country die every year of tobacco-related causes. Our OUT Against Big Tobacco program is fighting for the institutional changes required to save our next generation from the predatory practices of Big Tobacco.
In 2016, Equality California Institute, in partnership with the Transgender Law Center, launched and led the nation’s most ambitious campaign to educate the public about transgender Californians and the challenges they face. Transform California aimed to accomplish three main objectives: to educate California the public about transgender people; develop relationships, leaders and spokespeople within the transgender community; and research the most effective messaging about transgender people.
Equality California is committed to ending stigma against people living with HIV by educating legislators and mobilizing the LGBTQ+ community, and those who are disproportionately impacted by HIV. A key priority to replace fear-based, stigmatizing laws that criminalize HIV-status with evidence-based, nondiscriminatory laws that protect public health. Equality California is one of the founding members of Californians for HIV Criminalization Reform, a broad coalition of people living with HIV, community activists, and healthcare and civil rights organizations working to modernize California’s HIV criminal laws.
In 2016, Equality California Institute launched the statewide education campaign, #TakeIt: I’m PrEP’d, to educate the LGBTQ community and healthcare providers on the availability and benefits of pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, the daily pill to prevent HIV, and other forms of HIV treatment and prevention.
Our campaign targets gay and bisexual men and transgender women, especially from communities of color, who are often most at risk for HIV. Equality California is committed to working to end the epidemic by getting to zero – zero transmission, zero HIV-related deaths and zero HIV stigma.
California Faith for Equality is now a program of the Equality California Institute. After working with faith communities to promote LGBTQ equality and safeguard religious freedom for nearly a decade, California Faith for Equality’s network of hundreds of faith leaders is now working with Equality California to advance acceptance and equality for the LGBT community.
Equality California Institute leads a collaborative of LGBTQ centers from across the state that conducts outreach, education and enrollment assistance for immigrants seeking administrative relief and citizenship. Equality California Institute also recruited and facilitated immigration law trainings for more than 50 lawyers and legal professionals so that they can provide pro-bono legal assistance.