Virtual Town Hall for Trans Student Rights: #ShowUp4TransYouth

Dear Families,

This afternoon the Trump administration rescinded guidance the Department of Justice had provided schools on recognizing and protecting transgender students. This further demonstrates their intention to roll back all of the pro-LGBT gains we have achieved over the years.

Together we have fought and won too many recent legal battles to turn back now. And fortunately we’re not alone: Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson issued a statement reiterating protection of trans students as a core value:

All students deserve a safe and supportive school environment. California will continue to work to provide that environment for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students regardless of any misguided directives by the federal government and the Trump administration.

If we remain informed and vigilant, this footnote in history will not deter us. Tomorrow our partners at the GSA Network and Transgender Law Center are bringing together trans youth leaders, community leaders, legal experts, and allies from across the country to discuss the effects of this rollback and what will be needed to ensure our safety as LGBTQ families.

Please join us to hear what’s next for trans student advocacy.

What: Virtual Town Hall on Transgender Student Rights
When: Thursday, February 23rd at 2:00PM Pacific
Webinar link: bit.ly/ShowUp4TransKids

And as always, when your time is limited but your resources are less so: please donate what you can to support the organizations that support our families. Everything we do together makes a difference.

In solidarity and strength,
Our Family Coalition

PS: The Dept of Justice can be reached at 202-514-2000 and the Dept of Education at 800-872-5327. Demand that Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos protect the rights of ALL students, including gender creative and transgender students, today!

Anti-LGBT Executive Order – Action Alert

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Dear beloved community,

As you may have heard, we are expecting an extremely destructive anti-LGBT Executive Order to be issued by the Trump/Pence regime any moment now. Under the guise of “religious freedom,” this order would not just legalize, but incentivize discrimination against LGBTQ individuals, families, women seeking health care, as well as unmarried heterosexual couples!

We know that nothing about this order would contribute to the stability of families or make children – of LGBTQ parents or not – more secure. And we will fight like hell to challenge their relentless attacks against LGBT families and other targeted communities. Our Family Coalition is already working with our legal partners to prepare for a lawsuit against the Trump administration, as an organizational plaintiff, for the first time in our history, due to the far-reaching impact on our community.

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But our small team is completely stretched to meet the various advocacy demands and we need your help to continue organizing on the ground, at the state level and to be at national tables representing LGBTQ families. Will you join forces with us? Here are a few steps you and those who love and support your family can take:

  1. Join Our Family Coalition’s Speakers’ Bureau. We are looking to identify LGBT parents/caregivers and children/youth of LGBT parents who can volunteer to speak to the press, share their stories (via multiple mediums) and boost our capacity to speak the truth to power!

  2. Donate what you can to Our Family Coalition, and encourage your friends to do the same! We are fighting for same-sex couples and all LGBT families right now, and are preparing for an even bigger fight (if that’s possible) pending lawsuits. We need your support to raise 30K as soon as possible to hire a field organizer.

  3. Support a local action. Our Family Coalition will be representing at both the Oakland and San Francisco rallies. Exact dates will depend on when the executive order comes out. Check the Facebook pages for the most up to date info.

  4. Join Senator Kamala Harris in rejecting Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary: her long record funding anti-LGBTQ hate groups, who specifically call out trans people as unfit to teach kids, makes her one of our most pointed adversaries.

  5. Sign and generously share Transgender Law Center’s petition opposing the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the (stolen) Supreme Court seat. His record shows he would vigorously support a narrow, conservative Christian re-interpretation of our laws, enshrining discriminatory treatment of LGBTQ people.

As many have said: we don’t all have to do everything, but we all are called now to do something. And as you act, in any way you are able, know that we are right there with you, fueled by a shared belief in the power of love and our common values of fairness and justice for all.

Yours in the struggle,

Renata Moreira

Interim Executive Director, Our Family Coalition

Civic Engagement for Families: Some Resources

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Here are some creative ideas and resources for all-ages learning about social change and civic engagement.

We patterned the Fellowship Friday event on Solidarity Sundays, a nationwide network of feminist activist groups coordinating practical, focused, collective action to resist the Trump/Pence agenda. You can sign up to get information regularly, and then gather up a group of friends and make community and a difference.

You may also like to check out Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda, the short, extremely well-informed guide to civic action gathered together by congressional aides who watched the ascent of the Tea Party and their (admittedly super well-funded) local activism.

Sprung-up locally is the Bay Area Queer Anti-Fascist Network, an ad-hoc collective of groups and individuals building community and engaging in varied and direct action in the Bay Area.

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Those of us with younger kids might enjoy checking out picture and chapter books about about electoral politics, social change heroes, and grassroots advocacy. We can read them to or talk with our children about them:

For older kids, consider reading chapter books together, and talking about them: Solidarity Sunday list section for Older Readers.

For kids of all ages, interesting dinner table conversations could revolve around what we each would do if we were President of the United States, or even a leader in our own immediate community, on the immediate scale of a kid’s preschool or K-6 classroom, or middle or high school.

Crafty folks can gather together sign-making materials and create signs you could put in the window of your apartment or house, or in a car, or to take to any of the ongoing opportunities to march with other citizens on behalf of community, diversity, and – among others – LGBTQ families.

Adults and older kids can make a difference on a regular basis contacting your elected officials and urging them to have the courage of their convictions (if your representative is clearly on record to take a stand on behalf of LGBTQ people). Officials on committees considering appointments represent the interests of the entire nation, so you have every right, even a responsibility to committee members with your concerns about a proposed cabinet member – for instance, Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary, who has no experience with public schools and long experience disparaging LGBTQ people and funding organizations which regard trans people as “broken” and unfit to teach.

Kids tween/ pre-tween-aged on up can be hugely invigorated making calls on a Sunday with other kids reading scripts alongside adults to phone message machines of national political figures.

You can learn about about how to locate and contact your elected officials here: help finding contact info for elected officials.

You can get ideas about daily actions you can take, simply via contacting your elected officials, here (their motto: “Resisting extremism in America, one phone call at a time.”: Daily Action

And if you would like to know why it’s more helpful to call than to email, check out this concise run-down in the New York Times last November: “Here’s Why You Should Call, Not Email, Your Legislators”.

Whatever you do, do it often, and do it together! One of the best things that can come of this challenging climate is a renewed passion for democracy.

6 Radical MLK Jr. Quotations You Didn’t Learn in School

6 Radical MLK Jr. Quotations You Didn’t Learn in School

6 Radical MLK Jr. Quotations You Didn’t Learn in School

On this Martin Luther King Jr. day, we celebrate the legacy of the iconic civil rights leader with some of our favorite quotations from his work. They ring true now in our divided, unequal country as they did the first time he spoke them. While many of us were taught a narrative of the 1960s civil rights movement as a finite, completed project that completely solved racial inequality, these words remind us how the fight for justice is ongoing and crucial.

“One of the greatest problems of history is that the concepts of love and power are usually contrasted as polar opposites. Love is identified with a resignation of power and power with a denial of love. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”  —  Where Do We Go From Here, 1967

“Why is equality so assiduously avoided? Why does white America delude itself, and how does it rationalize the evil it retains?

The majority of white Americans consider themselves sincerely committed to justice for the Negro. They believe that American society is essentially hospitable to fair play and to steady growth toward a middle-class Utopia embodying racial harmony. But unfortunately this is a fantasy of self-deception and comfortable vanity.”

—  Where Do We Go From Here, 1967

“But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear?…It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”

—  “The Other America,” 1968

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

—“Beyond Vietnam,” 1967

“The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism.”

— Speech to SCLC  Board, 1967

“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time; and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

— Letter From Birmingham Jail, 1963

Here’s how you can help change the world.

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by Charlie Spiegel, Esq. SF
Proud Our Family Coalition Member

Dear Families and Friends –

 After September 11, 2001, I didn’t know how to parent my then 4-year old daughter if the country’s tallest skyscrapers could be made to “fall down.” A wise educator gave me advice I followed for many years, explaining we had to provide our children with the illusion of security, and as adults, remember it was only an illusion.

charlie2After November 9, 2016, I think we need to do more of the same—provide our kids the illusion of security, while remembering it is only an illusion. As adults, we need to do even more and support institutions that protect our community and change the world. That’s where supporting and strengthening Our Family Coalition (OFC) comes in. I hope you will join me in making a special tax-deductible contribution to OFC right now so they can expand their work to support LGBTQ families.

LGBTQ  families are surely at risk in this uncertain future just  as we were during Proposition 8, California’s anti-gay marriage initiative. OFC fought to have LGBTQ parents front and center in the campaign, successful years later, to change public opinion, in large part because our family members go into institutions where undecided fellow citizens are, and can change minds there one person at a time.

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Today feels the same.  Our families must be even more visible and engaged in order to change the hearts and minds of people, one by one. A strong Our Family Coalition helps make that change happen.

OFC’s work making California schools welcoming and affirming of family diversity provides the safety and warmth that helps shape our children into their own best advocates. At the same time, OFC’s work training parents to be effective media spokespeople, linking what happens politically to the day-to-day safety of our families, is crucial right now. And OFC provides the fun social spaces and activities that gives us all the strength for these fights.

Fifteen years ago, I parented by providing my daughter an illusion of safety. Now she’s 3,000 miles away, a sophomore in college, and there is no illusion that I can protect her from the difficult national environment we face. Instead, my sense of security comes from knowing she is a strong advocate for herself and others, and that her pride in her family will allow her to be confident, visible, and an advocate among families and students with less apparent diversity and understanding of differences.

I credit Our Family Coalition with providing each of us the spaces, tools and events to create, nurture, celebrate—and effectively advocate for– our families. That’s what our tax-deductible contributions to OFC support—now when the need is even greater.

bigdonatebutton-rectangle-whitebgI know you are part of this movement and this moment, and that this movement will succeed. I hope you can support OFC financially to the greatest extent possible for the months and years ahead.

Our Family Coalition makes that difference; please join us in changing our world, some more!

Charlie Spiegel, Esq. SF
Proud Our Family Coalition Member

PS: One of my strongest takeaways from this election is that a new generation of diverse activists will lead and win this fight in a world that is constantly changing. We saw 11 years of Judy Appel’s leadership wrapping up in September of this year, and see new possibilities again with Renata Moreira as Interim Executive Director. My tax-deductible donation to Our Family Coalition is specifically made to support Renata and all the employees of OFC to be our next generation of LGBTQ pioneers!  I hope you will too. Thank you.

Legal advice for LGBTQ families post-election

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Legal advice for LGBTQ families post-election

The information in this post is also available as a PDF.

Most of us are worried about the future of our families, communities and country. Now more than ever we need our LGBTQ family community. Our Family Coalition remains a strong voice for LGBTQ caregivers in California and we will continue to advocate for the rights of our families.

What does this mean for parental rights?
We cannot say this enough: it is highly recommended that non-biological parents complete a second-parent adoption or parentage judgement. Being on the birth certificate or being married to the child’s biological and/or legal parent does not ensure parental rights. By completing a second-parent adoption the parental legal relationship is secured in states outside of California. We understand that this process can be expensive for working class families and encourage you to contact the National Center for Lesbian Rights for referrals to attorneys who may be able to offer pro bono services and/or reduced fees to those who may qualify.

What does this mean for trans parents?
The federal rights of transgender students and employees should remain secure as those are based on federal statutes and the U.S. Constitution. It is recommended to get your ID documents updated while choosing your gender marker is an option. This includes passport, state ID, social security.
What does this mean for healthcare?
While it is not yet clear what will happen with the Affordable Care Act, any changes will take time. Check to see where your insurance plan is from and if it is covered by the Affordable Care Act and if any LGBT provisions may be affected.

How will the election affect undocumented immigrant people & families?
We encourage folks to contact a legal services provider to be screened for any possible immigration options immediately. The Immigration Advocates Network maintains a national directory of more than 950 free or low-cost nonprofit immigration services providers in all 50 states. We are also collecting stories of LGBTQ immigrant families who may wish to support advocacy campaigns. Please email policy@ourfamily.org if interested in participating.

What does this mean for marriage rights?
It is highly unlikely that marriage equality will be overturned. The process would take years and include replacing several Supreme Court judges and working a case through the Supreme Court. It is also very unlikely that married couples would see their marriages overturned. The law has strong protections against valid marriages being invalidated by subsequent changes law. “For individuals who are not currently married but who may wish to marry in the future, it is also highly unlikely that the fundamental right of same-sex couples to marry will be challenged or that the Supreme Court would revisit its 2015 holding that same-sex couples have that fundamental right.” We highly recommend anyone who counters any problem with your marriage being fully respected to contact our partners at the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

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Our Family Coalition hosted a LGBTQ Family Post-Election Community Call on 12/8, answering questions from the community on LGBTQ family issues including marriage, adoption, immigration, and gender and name changes. A huge thanks to our amazing legal partners Chelsea E. HaleyNelson, partner at HaleyNelson & Heilbrun, LLP, Ora Prochovnick, Director of Clinical and Public Interest Law Programs and professor of law at John F. Kennedy University, and Charlie Spiegel, www.CharlesSpiegelLaw.com, for being present on the call.

Download an audio recording of the conference call here (unedited): MP3, WAV

OFC in-person LGBTQ Family Post-Election Family Forum
1/12 6-8pm, at Laurel Bookstore in Oakland
Our Family Coalition is hosting an in-person Post-Election LGBTQ Family Forum to discuss the potential impact of a Trump administration on LGBTQ families. Emily Doskow, Linda M. Scaparotti and Angela Bean, attorneys with decades of experience working with LGBTQ families and immigration issues, will be onsite to speak and answer your questions and concerns.

Share Your Family Building Stories – LGBTQ Family Visibility Project
Our Family Coalition and SprOUT Family are gathering voices of LGBTQ families in California to assist with support, education and advocacy in the upcoming year. Sharing your family’s story can help move hearts and minds. We welcome stories from LGBTQI parents and caregivers, prospective parents, donors, children of LGBTQI parents, siblings and extended families (PFLAGers). All stories will be edited in collaboration with you and featured on Our Family Coalition and SprOUT Family websites. Email policy@ourfamily.org if you want to share your family’s story to build support for LGBTQI families.

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Resources for talking to our kids and students about the election

resources-squareRight now, we are all being called to the work of explaining these difficult times to our children. There is uncertainty, division, and—most of all—fear. We are committed to supporting families and teachers to be the loving guides children need now.

We have gathered some links and resources to guide you in your discussions with your family. First, check out an Our Family Coalition made resource, What a Trump/Pence Presidency Means For LGBTQ Family Rights. More suggested resources include:

PS: Our Family Coalition is hosting a Post-Elections Community Call on December 8, 12pm, for all of our families who are concerned about our current state of affairs and need to hear directly from our legal team and partners. Register now.

Come together tonight: Post-election gathering in San Francisco

Dear families, partners, and friends,

I woke this morning with my heart so broken, and yet so full.

12923333_10156741658315035_8320178196639789420_nLike you, Our Family Coalition staff and I are overcome with feelings of disappointment, shock, sadness, anger, and confusion. Yesterday, voters demonstrated where we are as a nation. And that place is unwelcoming – even openly hostile – to far too many of us.

Trump’s campaign appealed to people’s fears, and to the underlying anti-immigrant, misogynist, transphobic, racist, and homophobic sentiments that have been gathering strength underneath the surface of our nation’s fabric for many years.

In the wake of this election, most of our families are rightly concerned about our children’s and our community’s futures. Those of us who are Muslim, those of us who are immigrants or in bi-national families, those of in Black and brown communities, rightly worry that the threats of violence against us and our criminalization will rise.

rumiquoteAnd yet we must not despair.

First, we must take time to hold each other close and process through what is a genuine shock to many. And then? We get up and fight like hell again. We fight for our children; we fight for our kin; we fight the vision of a just world where all LGBTQ families are seen, dignified, and celebrated.

It will not be easy. But we owe it to those who worked so very hard for the progress we’ve made thusfar. And we know we can do this. Because we will do this just the way we’ve done so much up to this point: together, animated by the twin loves of our children and of justice.

Tonight, Our Family Coalition’s San Francisco office will be open to all who may want or need a place for support, and to start rebuilding our LGBTQ family community in the wake of these heartbreaking results:

LGBTQ Family Post-Election Gathering
Our Family Coalition office
1385 Mission St, #340, San Francisco
5:30 – 8pm

Please email shareena@ourfamily.org to let us know you’re coming so we can ensure we have enough food and refreshments for all.

The event we had planned for tonight was to be a DIY family craft workshop, with a photographer on hand to take family portraits. We will still offer these opportunities for your kids to be creative, and your family to go home with a beautiful portrait.  

And we hope you go home with that and more: with a fuller heart, and the knowledge that your community is strong. If you can’t be there, please know we are here for you and your family. And thank you for being here for us, through all the work that you do.

Let us celebrate the precious time we have with our kids. And let us remember now more than ever the why behind what we do.

Heartbroken (and on fire),

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Renata Moreira
Interim Executive Director

New Beginnings

IMG_3991Wow. What an incredible four years these have been. During my time as Policy and Communications Director at OFC, we’ve designed and launched successful campaigns on LGBTQ parental rights, inclusive curriculum, immigration, health care, marriage equality, and more. We’ve promoted welcoming and inclusive schools across the state, expanded our capacity to offer direct support to families, and become a national resource on LGBTQ family equity. I am untranslatably proud of our team and partners.

I am also grateful to the families, legislators, volunteers, and inspiring community leaders (like our own Judy Appel) for fighting this fight so many years before our recent victories. Because of your efforts, we have been able to challenge laws that systematically stand in the way of allowing our children to thrive. Because of your dedication, LGBTQ parents like my wife and I are now protected and our children are on their way to reach their full potential. From where I stand, it is our honor and obligation as the oldest and largest LGBTQ family rights organization in CA to continue expanding our institutional change work, and deepening our policy and advocacy initiatives so we assert more influence on the national conversation for equity.

I invite you once again to get in touch, donate, and share your skills with us today! With your help, we will continue expanding invaluable school and community programs, direct support services, and pro-LGBTQ family campaigns that deeply impact our diverse communities. Your expertise, perspectives, and grit are critical to transcend the challenges ahead. I can’t wait to hear from you. We’re in this together!

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Renata Moreira
Interim Executive Director

Change at Our Family Coalition

by Judy Appel
Executive Director, Our Family Coalition

After over ten years at the helm of Our Family Coalition, I will be concluding my time as Executive Director next month. I will join California School-Based Health Alliance as Executive Director, building on the educational equity I am so passionate about in my role on the Berkeley School Board. I am deeply honored to have been a part of this organization, with all of you.

I am very pleased to announce that Renata Moreira-Bilella – Our Family Coalition’s talented Communications and Policy Director and last summer’s Acting Executive Director – has the Board of Directors’ unanimous endorsement as Interim Executive Director this fall, as the Board conducts a comprehensive search and review process for the next Executive Director.

Renata-Judy-NightOut - 1In my eleven years at Our Family Coalition, I am proud to have seen the organization grow from local, to regional, to national prominence. The staff has grown from only two of us to over a dozen, and its annual budget has grown from a few hundred  thousand to over a million dollars. Our family support work now includes over 200 events per year, reaching nearly 3,000 community members from across the Bay Area. We work in coalition with some 120 nonprofit and social justice partners, serving statewide as an LGBTQ-inclusive voice on family issues, and a family voice on LGBTQ issues.

Policy wins during my tenure at Our Family Coalition have been numerous, including most recently the passage of our first co-sponsored bill: AB 960, the Equal Protection for All Families Act. We’ve seen Our Family Coalition take the lead as the state’s training source for Welcoming and Inclusive Schools, ensuring all children are educated in an environment that recognizes, understands, and respects their families and their whole selves. Finally, Our Family Coalition has developed an approach to LGBTQ social justice which deeply accounts for the multiple, intersectional identities of our community, and prioritizes solidarity work with movements for racial and economic justice. The racial diversity of both our staff and our Board reflects that of our state, something that makes me not only very proud, but very confident in our capacities to make change in 21st century California.

Many of you know my interim replacement Renata – pictured with me at left in the image above at a recent Night Out gala. She brings nearly two decades’ experience in educational and nonprofit leadership to her work at Our Family Coalition, and has served in advisory roles to a range of organizations, from the California Immigrant Policy Institute to the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. This past year, in addition to becoming a mother, she has been a Changemaker Fellow in the Spirituality and Social Change program at the Pacific School of Religion.  Her passionate, skilled advocacy has been at the center of so many of Our Family Coalition’s recent successes. In her words:

I’m thrilled to be stepping in as OFC’s Interim ED. This is a moment of personal honor for me as a queer mama who has been working to promote equity for LGBTQ people and our allies for over 15 years. It is also a moment of deep personal responsibility that I do not take lightly. I will work tirelessly, with my eyes on our mission, my ears open to the voices of all, and my heart committed to LGBTQ parents and our families.” 

With Renata as Interim Director, we are confident the organization will be will be in very able hands during the upcoming transition.

I want to thank you, the community, for the opportunity to spend my kids’ childhoods leading this incredible organization and its dedicated staff. I am proud of the strong team we’ve become, and I take my next step knowing the organization is well-positioned to take on the challenges to come.  From not so very far away, I will be looking forward to Our Family Coalition’s next chapter with Renata’s strong leadership of the amazing OFC team.