Letter: In support of LGBTQ+ youth in Spreckels

While LGBTQ+ people have always been a part of Monterey County’s rich social fabric, historically, the LGBTQ+ community has faced systematic erasure and too often has been forced into shadows due to stigma, discrimination and even threats of violence for simply being who they are.

Statistics show that LGBTQ+ youth have among the highest suicide rates among their peers. Transgender people – especially transgender women of color – continue to be murdered at alarming and unacceptable rates. Local school surveys from 2016 indicate that 44% of LGBTQ+ students are bullied or harassed in schools.

Today, California laws require businesses and schools to protect and be inclusive of LGBTQ+ residents. However, societal attitudes are slower to change. Locally we continue to make strides towards inclusion. In June 2020, the City of Salinas raised the Rainbow flag for the first time to honor Pride month. Last November, the County of Monterey recognized Transgender Day of Remembrance and raised the Transgender flag at the Monterey County Government Center. School Districts across the County celebrate Pride with resolutions and on-campus events. Our communities host two annual Pride events: one in Salinas and another in Monterey. Each of these acts sends a message that our community is one that is safe, inclusive and welcoming.

The work that LGBTQ+ student groups, their advisors and allies do to foster community and safety among students takes lifesaving importance. It is also why so many of us have watched the events unfold in the Spreckels Union School District that have led to the disbanding of the “You Be You” LGBTQ+ student group with alarm.

Now more than ever, we need to come together as a community to support our educators and students. We value our diverse communities and the differences of opinion we have on civic and education issues however hate-driven violence and bigotry – either through our words or through our actions – will not be tolerated in our communities, especially in our schools.

We stand firmly in support of the fundamental human rights of our LGBTQ+ students. We commit to working in partnership with the Spreckels Union School District and the larger Monterey County community to grow and learn from this experience and to continue our collective work to make our schools models of inclusion.

Mark Stone, California State Assembly Member, 29th Assembly District
Wendy Root Askew, Monterey County Board of Supervisors
Luis Alejo, Monterey County Board of Supervisors
Chris Lopez, Monterey County Board of Supervisors
Anna Velasquez, Mayor, City of Soledad
Alison Kerr, Mayor, City of Del Rey Oaks
Clyde Roberson, Mayor, City of Monterey
Dave Potter, Mayor, City of Carmel-by-the-Sea
Yanely Martinez, Greenfield City Council
Anthony Rocha, Salinas City Council
Orlando Osornio, Salinas City Council
Tyller Williamson, Monterey City Council
Jeff Baron, Carmel City Council
Karen Ferlito, Carmel City Council
Alexis Garcia-Arrazola, Seaside City Council
David Ray Pacheco, Seaside City Council
Jon Wizard, Seaside City Council
Kathy Biala, City of Marina, Mayor Pro Tem
Lisa A. Berkley, PhD, Marina City Council
Cristina Medina Dirkson, Marina City Council
Kim Shirley, Del Rey Oaks City Council
Jenny McAdams, Pacific Grove City Council
Regina Gage, Vice President, Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System Trustee
Aurelio Salazar, Jr., Hartnell College Trustee, Area 2
Erica Padilla-Chavez, Hartnell College Trustee
Yuri Anderson, Monterey Peninsula College Trustee
Jose “Andrew” Sandoval, Santa Rita Union District Trustee
Amy Ish, Salinas City Elementary School District Trustee (signing as an individual)
Francisco Javier Estrada, Salinas City Elementary School District Trustee
Kathryn Ramirez, Salinas City Elementary School District Trustee (signing as an individual)
Carolyn Swanson, Pacific Grove Unified School District (signing as an individual)
Veronica (Ronnie) Miramontes, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District
Jessica Hare, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District
Iván Ibarra Mora, Soledad Unified School District Trustee

Joe Livernois

About Joe Livernois

Joe Livernois has been a reporter, editor and columnist in Monterey County for 35 years.