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Bella and Alice present FAIR at Birmingham Community Charter High School for the GSA

October 19, 2012 By Guest Contributor
Students love EQCA and FAIR!

Students at Birmingham Community High School learn about FAIR from EQCA

My name’s Alice Vardanian, and I’m a volunteer at Equality California. I got started one fine day when a lady wearing a shirt that read “EQCA” across it swooped me up off my feet and got me into this whole mess. It’s a good mess, for sure. I’m only 16 years old, the youngest regular volunteer. Ever since then, for about 4-5 months now, I’ve been volunteering at EQCA almost every week at the gay pride parades, phone banking, door-to-door canvassing, and all throughout EQCA’s fight for SB 1172  and the FAIR Education Act. Last week, field organizer Bella Week and I gave a presentation at my school on the FAIR Education Act. Read the rest of this entry »

2012 Queer Youth Advocacy Day

May 1, 2012 By Shaun Osburn

queer youth advocacy day

I was 16-years-old when I attended the first Queer Youth Advocacy Day in Sacramento. At 32, this was literally a lifetime ago. I marched up to the capitol with my purple dreadlocks and combat boots demanding safe schools and safer-sex education in California classrooms. The largest gay-youth political turnout in the state’s history at that point, it was impossible to ignore the 300+ youth that converged upon the Capitol that day. And it’s just as impossible to ignore them today.

Launched in 1996 by LIFE Lobby (which would later become Equality California), Queer Youth Advocacy Day has evolved from a single day of lobbying to an expansive youth-empowerment weekend. Staff from Equality California Institute, GSA Network, The Transgender Law Center, The Trevor Project and ACLU of California work with youth on delivering their messages at the Capitol and support youth in overcoming fears they might have in delivering those messages to their representatives.

Or, as Assemblymember Sheila Kuehl told us back in 1996: “Remember when Dorothy found out that the Wizard was really a little old man behind a curtain, pushing buttons and turning wheels? Well, this place is like that.” Read the rest of this entry »

Door-To-Door Canvassing In Los Angeles

April 27, 2012 By Guest Contributor

Anthony Sanchez
EQCA Volunteer

eqca volunteerAn afternoon in any Los Angeles neighborhood is full of more than just green grasses, broken sidewalks, and chain link fences because much like the variety of flowers in the yards so too is the variety of people who live in these homes. On this Saturday in Glassell Park I was nervous about going door-to-door at first, but after the amazing training we were given from Equality California staff I felt prepared to start having these important conversations. As expected, most of the homes are quiet and no resident is home but after a few knocks I meet one gentleman who opens his door to me.

At first he is behind the screen door and all I can see is his shadow as the light from the living room behind him radiates a television of a 24 hour news station. After a few conversation prompts, the man opens his door to engage me in some of the questions. He asks, “Did I answer it correct?” I laugh because we are asking about his opinions, which to there is no right or wrong answer. As I proceed to ask if he knows of anyone in his life who the survey could relate to it makes him stop and recount a cousin. “We don’t talk much about his personal life,” his eyes welling up, “but I love him.”

Before our conversation ends, I am sitting in his living room and he is offering me a bottle of water to refresh me on this warm afternoon. I leave him knowing that his home and opinion will become part of the fabric of our work.

On Saturday, May 12th we will be knocking on doors in Boyle Heights to talk to voters about the FAIR Education Act. We need your help! For more information on how to get involved as a volunteer, email bella@eqca.org or go to www.eqca.org/volunteer.

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A Breakthrough Conversation

January 23, 2012 By Paul Shirey

phone

I was so moved by the response from Bella's post last month, I felt c

ompelled to share a story of my own about the work we do to open minds and change hearts for full LGBT equality.

During a recent phone bank, I contacted a California voter about the FAIR Education Act. As I described how the FAIR Education Act would place the achievements and struggles of LGBT people into history books and social science classes, she abruptly interrupted me by saying, “Why do we need to talk about a person being gay? We should just focus on what a person has done.” I then told her that gay people have had to fight for equality throughout history. I explained that only a couple of decades ago The Briggs initiative would have made it illegal for gay people to teach in California's public schools. She agreed such a law was unfair. I asked if she or her family had ever experienced discrimination. She told me how she had recently been harassed by a store owner in Arizona because she was Mexican. She believes that this happened because of SB 1070, the anti-illegal immigration law. I took this opportunity to tell her that when gay folks were faced with the insanity of the Briggs initiative, they organized and successfully defeated that law in historic fashion. We both agreed that a law like the Briggs initiative and a law like SB 1070 were equally unfair. I explained that because LGBT Americans have been the victims of exclusion throughout history, they have had no choice but to organize to fight for basic rights, just like people have been doing in Arizona recently. I asked her if she believed that all people who fought equality should be included in history books–she said they should. At this point she told me that the history of the LGBT movement and LGBT people should be taught in schools and that she fully supported the FAIR Education Act.

Within minutes, miles of progress can take place and these are critical conversations to have in order to combat our opponent's scare tactics.Rich Text AreaToolbarBold (Ctrl / Alt+Shift + B)Italic (Ctrl / Alt+Shift + I)Strikethrough (Alt+Shift+D)Unordered list (Alt+Shift+U)Ordered list (Alt+Shift+O)Blockquote (Alt+Shift+Q)Align Left (Alt+Shift+L)Align Center (Alt+Shift+C)Align Right (Alt+Shift+R)Insert/edit link (Alt+Shift+A)Unlink (Alt+Shift+S)Insert More Tag (Alt+Shift+T)Toggle spellchecker (Alt+Shift+N)▼
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I was so moved by the response from Bella's post last month, I felt compelled to share a story of my own about the work we do to open minds and change hearts for full LGBT equality.
During a recent phone bank, I contacted a California voter about the FAIR Education Act. As I described how the FAIR Education Act would place the achievements and struggles of LGBT people into history books and social science classes, she abruptly interrupted me by saying, “Why do we need to talk about a person being gay? We should just focus on what a person has done.” I then told her that gay people have had to fight for equality throughout history. I explained that only a couple of decades ago The Briggs initiative would have made it illegal for gay people to teach in California's public schools. She agreed such a law was unfair. I asked if she or her family had ever experienced discrimination. She told me how she had recently been harassed by a store owner in Arizona because she was Mexican. She believes that this happened because of SB 1070, the anti-illegal immigration law. I took this opportunity to tell her that when gay folks were faced with the insanity of the Briggs initiative, they organized and successfully defeated that law in historic fashion. We both agreed that a law like the Briggs initiative and a law like SB 1070 were equally unfair. I explained that because LGBT Americans have been the victims of exclusion throughout history, they have had no choice but to organize to fight for basic rights, just like people have been doing in Arizona recently. I asked her if she believed that all people who fought equality should be included in history books–she said they should. At this point she told me that the history of the LGBT movement and LGBT people should be taught in schools and that she fully supported the FAIR Education Act.

Within minutes, miles of progress can take place and these are critical conversations to have in order to combat our opponent's scare tactics.
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Notes From The Field

December 21, 2011 By Bella Week

eqca field

While canvassing in Long Beach I asked a businessman coming out of a supermarket if he would take a moment to help us end anti-gay bullying in schools.

He stopped and told me that gay students aren’t bullied any more than other students, so we shouldn’t be just concentrating on ending bullying for them, but for all kids. I agreed with him that students get bullied at school for all sorts of reasons, but most of those kids will go home at the end of the day and at least have a family and community that supports and loves them. Many LGBT youth go home only to face the same hostility from a family that doesn’t accept them because of who they are. They are told by their communities and religious leaders that they are worthless and sinful. That’s what makes it different.

He stood there and respectively listened to what I had to say before interjecting to inform me that if these teenagers want to pursue that lifestyle, they should expect to be treated like that. I asked him if he thought being gay was a choice, and he said it was. He said that kids can be influenced by all sorts of things, especially the media, that can factor in to how they choose to identify themselves.

I told him that I’m gay, and had always known that was who I am, even before I knew what being gay was – it certainly wasn’t a choice for me.

‘Do you remember when you decided to be straight?’, I asked.  Read the rest of this entry »