Author Archives: Our Family Coalition

Conservative parents are engaged: are you?

Dangerous anti-LGBTQ rhetoric is in full swing, and we need to respond.

Less than two weeks following the California Department of Education’s passage of the new LGBTQ-inclusive Sexual Health Framework, a conservative, anti-LGBTQ organization is misleading and rallying parents against inclusive education, inciting protests and threatening educators and administrators.

Deliberate falsehoods have been circulated to stir up opposition to LGBTQ inclusion. Here are  the facts:

  • This newly inclusive Framework provides guidance and support, not mandates, for teachers and schools.
  • Every family has and continues to have the right to determine what their child learns about sex education.
  • One in ten California middle and high schoolers identifies as LGBTQ, and they deserve medically accurate, age-appropriate lessons every bit as much as their cisgender and heterosexually-identified peers.
  • When surveyed, 89% of California parents supported comprehensive sex ed in schools.
  • Teachers up and down the state have asked for these resources to help answer the hard questions and ensure every kid in their class feels seen and safe.  Help us support them!

Donate what you can today to enable OFC to do more of what we do so well: train schools how to approach LGBTQ-affirmative and inclusive education in ways that work–for every teacher, and every student.

Contact OFC’s Education Team to find plug in as a volunteer to support this critical advocacy–in our office, at your child’s school, or even from home.

Let’s not let this very vocal minority distort the issues and rob our kids of the balanced, inclusive education they deserve.

Harvey Milk Day: Ten Resources for Families

This Wednesday, May 22 is Harvey Milk Day, recognized in California as a “day of special significance” in public schools for the 10th year now. Whether or not your kid’s school has any lesson plans or hallway displays or community meeting recognitions of it, we’ve collected ten resources you could consider for your own family’s discussion of the day.

Most of the ten jumping-off points listed below provide links to yet more. Each child and each family is unique, so as you do with everything you introduce to your kids, by all means check out the book(s) first yourself, and give a thought to conversations you can have to provide depth and context.  (E.g., see the Educator’s Guide to The Harvey Milk Story below)


Background/ Wikipedia

  • Biography of Jose Julio Sarria, first openly gay candidate for elective office in the U.S. (San Francisco Supervisor, 1961) [Wikipedia]
  • Biography of Harvey Milk (first ran for SF Supervisor a dozen years later in 1973; won office in 1977 following redistricting to reflect neighborhoods) [Wikipedia]
  • A list of the first openly LGBTQ elective office-holders in the U.S. [Wikipedia]

Picture books, chapter books, and books for young readers

  • Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, by Rob Sanders [2018, Penguin Random House]
  • The Harvey Milk Story, by Kari Krakow [2002, Two Lives Publishing]
    • Educator’s Guide to The Harvey Milk Story (written by Krakow) [PDF]
  • Gay & Lesbian History for Kids: The Century-Long Struggle for LGBT Rights, with 21 Activities, by Jerome Pohlen [2015, Chicago Review Press]

Young Adult books

  • Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World, by Sarah Prager [2017, Harper Collins]
  • Hear Us Out! Lesbian and Gay Stories of Struggle, Progress, and Hope, 1950 to the Present, by Nancy Garden [2007, Farrar Stauss and Giroux]

Round-ups and Resource Lists

Are you ready to become OFC’s next Interim ED?

Dear community and families,

Earlier this week, I announced that I will be transitioning out of my role as Executive Director of Our Family Coalition at the end of June. And now I’m back to invite all of you all to spread the word about this unique opportunity to lead California’s premier LGBTQ family organization that I love so dearly. 

As noted by our Board co-chair Steve Disselhorst, “We are incredibly grateful for the dedication Renata has shown this organization, and we are already working to identify a stellar candidate who can fill her shoes and continue moving OFC forward.” 

I invite you to help Steve, the Board, and our team to identify OFC’s next leader! A transition like this provides the organization with a special opportunity to grow in new directions, and we want your vision to inform that.

Again, it has been an honor to work for and with LGBTQ families and our allies in California over the past seven years, and I look forward to onboarding a match made in heaven to lead OFC’s next chapter.  

Here is the link to the job description, which includes details on how to apply. Please feel free to share this opportunity with your networks, and contact the search committee with any leads or suggestions! 

Sincerely,

 

 

Renata Moreira
Executive Director

A letter of farewell and a new chapter begins

by Renata Moreira

Beloved community and friends,

After seven years working to advance equity for LGBTQ families and our allies in California, I will be transitioning out of my role as Executive Director of Our Family Coalition (OFC) at the end of June to devote some much-needed time to my own family. It has been a profound honor to serve our diverse community and to work alongside countless passionate changemakers, particularly at a time of such need. I’m tremendously proud of the work we have done and continue to do to ensure that all of our LGBTQ families are able to thrive and know they are supported.

My work as Executive Director coincided with Trump’s election. Fom day one, I have been so moved by the fierce community response. For every gut-punch to our democratic process and to decency, I’ve seen resilience and solidarity. Particularly for a family-driven agency like OFC, we have had to remain alert and responsive to near-daily attempts on the part of this Administration to roll back legal gains, or to isolate, separate, and persecute the most vulnerable among us. Yet at the same time, we to draw inspiration from our love of our families, and maintain the values of compassion and justice in our work. For our sake and theirs.

In the past three years, I’ve had the honor of leading OFC to numerous impressive accomplishments. I’m especially proud to highlight here:

  • our transformative work in in anti-bias education, where our trainings of 2,100 teachers and educators have gone on to impact thousands of California students;
  • the increase of our base of individual supporters participating and funding this life-affirming work at our Night Out galas;
  • our selection as the recipient of the 2018 José Julio Sarria History Makeraward from SF Pride, which honored OFC among Pride Marshals for our work leading the coalition to ensure that the FAIR Education Act is thoroughly implemented in the state;
  • the expansion and innovation of our programs our programs, producing over 250 playgroups, workshops, and community events impacting nearly 4,000 LGBTQ families and allies annually; and
  • our pioneering advocacy work in education, which rallied over a dozen organizations to do the deep, necessary, work to vet and provide concrete edits to the textbooks seeing to rectify the historical exclusion of LGBTQ people and our families in our history and social science curriculum. 

I hope you can take a minute to also celebrate the collective achievements with us. 

As the first immigrant and first person of color to lead Our Family Coalition, I’m also honored to have been named among Changemakers of the Year by The Bay Area Reporter in 2017, highlighting Bay Area leaders who positively impact the LGBTQ community in our great city and state. I will be transitioning out of OFC’s leadership with my heart filled with gratitude to have been able to work with so many of you to expanded our initiatives to better support the rich racial diversity of our community and hope to be co-creating again with you in the near future.  

Meanwhile, Our Family Coalition’s Board of Directors has begun the search for candidates for Interim Executive Director to lead OFC through the remainder of the calendar year, during which time a comprehensive, national search for OFC’s next Executive Director will take place. The position description is at tinyurl.com/OFC-IED-2019 (opens PDF); please do email the search committee (ied@ourfamily.org) if you know of the perfect person to pilot OFC during this exciting next chapter! Given the dedication and many years of service on the part of the Board and staff, I am confident the organization will be in very able hands as Our Family Coalition charts its path forward.

I will return to work toward equity and liberation soon, renewed by vital time with family. I also know I will continue supporting Our Family Coalition’s next chapter as a donor, as an engaged community member, as an advisor, and as a friend. I am deeply honored to have been a part of this organization, with all of you. 

Todo meu amor e luz,

Renata Moreira, Executive Director 

PS: Our Family Coalition’s Interim ED Job Announcement is fresh off the press [here; opens PDF]! We look forward to connecting with inspiring candidates. Much love & light to you and families.

Equality Act of 2019: Don’t believe the (negative) hype

The Equality Act will be voted on next week–May 13-18, 2019–let your elected representative know: it’s time for federal equality for all LGBTQ people.

As any quick Google search on “Equality Act” will show you, the right wing is working overtime to discredit this piece of historic legislation. It’s big for all of us, but utterly necessary–truly, life-changing– for those of us living in the over 30 states in which one can be legally denied employment, housing, public accommodations, you name it, simply based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Contrary to the negative hype (for examples, just check out this Advocate article), the Equality Act is not going to squash protections for anyone, or trigger a tsunami of lawsuits. In fact it will expand protections, and not only on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Want to learn more? Read on! Because below we’ve got Equality Act true facts in several formats. You may prefer simply the text of the bill itself. Or you could use an explainer video, or maybe an infographic. And for those who like their facts raw we’ve got those too, in a series of ten bullet points. Links at the bottom of the post show the sources for all the info.

And what to do, once you’ve answered your questions and are ready to act?

  • Confirm whether or not your congressional representative has signed on to the Equality Act. If they have, please call or write them to thank them, and let them know you will strongly support their “yes” vote next week. Find your Representative here. Then check the H.R.5 – Equality Act cosponsors list here.
  • Connect with friends and family whose representatives have not signed on, and encourage them to urge their representatives to get on the right side of history, while they still can–i.e. before their next re-election campaign!

We get it: with a majority of Senators in lock-step with a virulently anti-LGBTQ administration, we don’t expect the Act to be passed by the Senate or signed into law by the President. But passage in the House of Representatives, with a decisively strong majority, sends a powerful message to every 2020 presidential candidate: the time for unapologetic support of federal LGBTQ civil rights and protections is now.


THE BILL ITSELF: Just like the Equal Rights Amendment, the Equality Act consists of just a few, super-clear statements. Five, to be exact:

This bill prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system. Specifically, the bill defines and includes sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation.


The bill expands the definition of public accommodations to include places or establishments that provide (1) exhibitions, recreation, exercise, amusement, gatherings, or displays; (2) goods, services, or programs; and (3) transportation services.


The bill allows the Department of Justice to intervene in equal protection actions in federal court on account of sexual orientation or gender identity.


The bill prohibits an individual from being denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.

H.R.5 – Equality Act, 116th Congress (2019-2020)

EXPLAINER VIDEO: if you (or someone you’re looking to persuade) like your overview in a quickie animation-filled video, here’s a 3-minute ditty from HRC:


INFOGRAPHIC: if you like a good infographic, here’s a beaut from UCLA’s Williams Institute:

from The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law: Impact of the Equality Act on LGBT People in the U.S., March, 2019.

FACTS & FIGURES: here are ten quick facts for your back pocket (or your purse! or both!):

  • 42% of LGB people report experiencing discrimination on the job because of who they are;
  • 78% of transgender people report experiencing discrimination on the job because of who they are;
  • only 21 states have laws explicitly banning discrimination based on sexual orientation; and
  • only 20 states have laws banning discrimination based on gender identity.

And, on the plus-side:

  • 164 businesses–representing $3.8 trillion in revenue, 8.7 million employees, and operations in 50 states, with headquarters in 27 states–have endorsed the Equality Act
  • 70% of Americans support LGBTQ anti-discrimination laws

The Equality Act would:

  • amend existing law, including: the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the Jury Selection and Service Act;
  • clarify that at the Religious Freedom Restoration Act cannot be used as a defense for discrimination on any basis;
  • apply to the same employers as the Civil Rights Act does–namely private and public-sector employers with 15 or more employees;
  • maintain exemptions that allow religious corporations, associations, educational institutions, and societies to hire only individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with their religious activities, written in such a way as to assure reasonable people that religious protections are going to operate in the same way they always have.

For further reading and where we got our numbers:What the Equality Act Means for LGBTQ Americans,” by Trudy Ring at The Advocate, March 13, 2019; Wikipedia entry on Equality Act (United States), retrieved May 7, 2019; Public Religion Research Institute’s Fifty Years After Stonewall: Widespread Support for LGBT Issues – Findings from American Values Atlas 2018, by Daniel Greenberg et al., March 26, 2019; and UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute: “LGBT People in the U.S. Not Protected by State Nondiscrimination Statues” (opens PDF), published March 2019 and updated April 2019.


A free pair of Night Out gala tickets to you social media mavens with the most hustle!

Calling all Our Family Coalition supporters!

We’re glad you’re part of our community, and we love doing what we do on behalf of your family and our community.

Today we’re asking for a little help back, something fun, which includes a major perk if you throw yourself into it.

Would you be an ambassador on behalf of OFC
for this year’s Give OUT Day,Tuesday, April 18, 2019?

Give OUT Day is the one and only national day of giving for the LGBTQ community, driven by thousands of individuals passionately promoting things they care about via their networks online. Here’s our organization’s GiveOUT day page, so you can get an idea of what this is about. We’d love to have you on board as an ambassador!

What would you do? Three simple things:

  1. Establish an Individual GiveOUT Day Donor page, so you can personalize your pitch & we can track your donors (we’ll help; it’s easy).
  2. Be willing to spread the word to your friends and social media/ Facebook followers over the weeks before Give OUT Day.
  3. Plug Give OUT Day on Tuesday, April 18th, with as much enthusiasm as you have time that day, with Tweets, Facebook posts, email blasts to friends, etc.

We’ll walk you through it all, if you’re in. It’s simple, it’s fun, and it’s huge way to give back to OFC.

Ready for the major perk?

The OFC ambassador who nets the most unique donors  – not the most donation money total, just the most people donating  – will be thanked with two free tickets to this year’s Night Out Gala, Friday April 26!  Sweet, right?

If you’re interested, email us at media@ourfamily.org.

Urge Congress to advance the FAMILY Act Today!

Our Family Coalition calls on Congress to advance the the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, a major piece of legislation reintroduced in Congress on Feb 12 by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) with the goal of establishing our nation’s FIRST federal insurance program for paid family and medical leave.
Senator Gillibrand at a podium bearing the sign Pass the #FAMILYAct

This LGBTQ-inclusive measure would ensure employees have access to 12 weeks of partial income if they take time off to care for a health problem of a child, parent, spouse or domestic partner, the birth or adoption of a child, or military caregiving and leave purposes.

The proposal also makes leave available to every individual regardless of the size of their current employer or whether such individual is currently employed by an employer, self-employed or currently unemployed, as long as the person has sufficient earnings and work history.

We at Our Family Coalition believe that the FAMILY Act is a huge step forward to addressing our country’s paid family and medical leave crisis and that – when it becomes the law of the land – it will benefit working people, our families, businesses and our nation’s economy.

The National Partnership for Women & Families prepared a fact sheet on the bill.

Please contact your Congressional representative at the U.S. House of Representatives and urge them to support the FAMILY Act today!

Pass the #FamilyAct!

Guess who we’re honoring at this year’s Night Out!

We are so glad to announce another Our Family Coalition Night Out, this year slated for Friday, April 26, 2019, at the InterContinental San Francisco.

For over a decade, Night Out has been the only Bay Area event designed to celebrate LGBTQ families, our champions, and our allies. Hundreds of the most committed leaders and partners in the LGBTQ family justice and education movement gather to celebrate, revive and envision.

Elected officials, corporate sponsors, community partners, schools, and major donors join in celebrating our families and our accomplishments, and together marshal the resources to ensure Our Family Coalition’s bright future.

I’m also thrilled to announce the inspiring advocates we’ll be honoring this year:

  • Zach Wahls, Iowa Senator, will receive our Luminary Award, for his clarion-clear voice and potent advocacy on behalf of LGBTQ family and gender equity coast to coast.
  • Alison Collins, San Francisco School Board Member and community organizer, will receive our Community Partner Award for her dedication to educational equity for all.
  • Amplify will receive our Corporate Impact Award for their exemplary, pioneering work in inclusive education.

All sorts of leading companies, organizations, and individuals have already committed to making this year’s event a huge success, including  Brio Financial, Pure Storage, Amplify, Northwest Surrogacy Center, Reproductive Science Center, California Teachers Association, Marin Country Day School, and many more.

Sponsorship opportunities are available now! Check out the details here.

Please email Jenny Raviv at your earliest convenience if you’d like to join these champions for LGBTQ families and inclusive education, or click on the Become a Sponsor button below. The benefits are many, not least of which is great visibility and participation in this one-of-a-kind Bay Area tradition.

I’m looking forward to welcoming you on April 26 at the InterContinental San Francisco to celebrate these inspiring leaders and our collective achievements on behalf of LGBTQ families, our allies, and our community. It’s an evening of inspiration not to be missed.

 

 

“For as long as we can remember, we have always wanted to become fathers”: Jimmy and Michael’s Surrogacy Journey

We recently interviewed with new dads Jimmy Nguyen and Michael Duque. Their journey to fatherhood included a visit to the Men Having Babies/ OFC Surrogacy Conference and Expo, now in its 6th year and taking place this upcoming weekend, January 12th and 13th, at San Francisco’s Marines’ Memorial Club and Hotel in the Union Square area. Read on for more…


Our Family Coalition: Tell us about your family. 

Jimmy and Michael: We have been together for 13 years total, and married for one year. We were friends before we got together as a couple. In fact, Jimmy was trying to help Michael get over a recent ex of his, developing feelings for Michael in the process. One thing led to another and the rest is history!

OFC: How long was this journey, from having the idea in your head to now, when the baby is in your arms and you’re both launched into fatherhood?

Jimmy and Michael: For as long as we can remember, we have always wanted to become fathers and have always had the desire to have children. Even in our younger days when we were still having fun, we have always set a goal for ourselves to become parents somewhere in our mid-thirties when we are ready emotionally, psychologically, and financially.

Fast forward to about five years ago. We began our initial research into the different kinds of options to family building (adoption, fostering, surrogacy, co-parenting, etc). After a couple of years of research and talking to different people, we ultimately decided that surrogacy was the choice for us. During the holidays of 2016, we started talking about our goals for the new year, and we decided that 2017 was the year to take the plunge and start our journey of fatherhood.

Come early January 2017, while researching about surrogacy, Jimmy got distracted and scrolled through his Facebook feed. With the amazing remarketing technology of Facebook, an advertisement for Men Having Babies in San Francisco came up on Jimmy’s feed. We saw the ad on Tuesday and the seminar was for Saturday. We immediately booked flights and accommodations and attended the seminar a few days later.

Fast forward one year and nine months and the birth of our son was October 11, 2018. Our actual journey was relatively short by most standards, but we came into it with a few years of research behind us.

OFC: What were the things that you were most worried about that turned out the most different? Fears, concerns, natural things you were obsessing would be a problem but actually weren’t? What were your biggest discoveries?

Jimmy and Michael: We were worried that we would have many complications and that it would take several tries and tens of thousands more dollars to achieve pregnancy, but we were so lucky to have had a relatively smooth journey. We had one failed transfer; however, we were successful with the subsequent transfer two months later. The fear was based on talking to people and reading about the plethora of things that could go wrong.

We were also worried that we wouldn’t develop a good relationship with our surrogate and that it would be purely ‘business’ in nature, but we were also lucky to meet our wonderful surrogate and her family and have developed an amazing bond with them that still continues to this day. We discovered that there were tons of resources available to us through Men Having Babies and that our journey would be guided step-by-step by the wonderful men and women who were affiliated with the organization.

OFC: For many, the cost of surrogacy is essentially prohibitive, how did you manage to navigate this piece of the process?

Jimmy and Michael: We did not embark on our journey without having saved up enough money to complete the journey – without having to remortgage our house or take out any loans. We were fortunate enough to be able to do this prior to starting our journey. We understand that this may not be possible for many people, but it is imperative that sacrifices are made in order to save up for this journey.

OFC: Were there any organizations or groups that have been particularly helpful for you along the way, in addition to Men Having Babies or Our Family Coalition? Are there any resources you would consider critical?

Jimmy and Michael: We mostly reached out to MHB members with questions we had along the way with our journey, and everyone helped immensely in answering all of the questions that we had. We also received help from other infertility professionals that were working with Canadian Fertility Consulting (CFC) as well. CFC was the agency we worked with for the Canadian part of our journey.

OFC: If you had the chance to talk to yourselves years ago, what would be the most critical advice you’d want to give yourselves, with the insight you have now that you’re on this side of the journey?

Jimmy and Michael: Don’t be afraid and intimidated by the process! Take the plunge and know that there are lots of resources around to help navigate the journey.

OFC: If there were any gift you could give prospective and expecting dads at their baby shower, what would it be?

Jimmy and Michael: It would be to have Dr. Georges Sylvestre on their speed dial to help answer any and all questions related to the medical part of the journey! Dr. Sylvestre is very active with MHB and is a huge resource to have.

Good luck!


The 6th Annual Surrogacy Conference and Expo takes place this weekend, January 12-13, 2019, at the Marines’ Memorial Club and Hotel, in San Francisco.

What OFC means to my family

I serve as Family Programs Director here at Our Family Coalition. I’m a lesbian mom, an immigrant, and have been a proud Bay Area resident for the past 25 years. I live in the East Bay with my spouse, our son, and our cat Frederic, whom we consider our second child.

I came to work at Our Family Coalition for deeply personal reasons that I’d like to share with you, before inviting you to join us in our work with a generous end-of-year donation.

My family had attended the LGBTQ Family Night at the YMCA in Berkeley since our son was a toddler, so we knew first-hand that the organization offered amazing programs and classes for families like mine. We saw more queer families under one roof in one night than we could hope to see in a year! And we kept coming back.

Then in 2011, we needed help dealing with homophobia at my son’s school. I had worked with the school to launch their first LGBTQ family group and became the VP of LGBTQ Affairs on the PTA’s Executive Board, but knew we needed more to make schools inclusive for our son and his classmates. I contacted OFC’s stellar Education Team to do a training for the teachers and parents. When I saw their impact on our school community, I knew that I wanted to be a part of that work.

When an opportunity to join OFC’s team came up, I leapt at it, and I’ve considered this work a calling ever since.

OFC’s family support programming is truly unparallelled: no other organization – locally or statewide – offers the quantity and quality of opportunities that we do for LGBTQ parents and caregivers of young children. At our workshops, playgroups, support groups, and community events, people break their isolation and find one another; they strengthen bonds with their kids and their community. Families learn about valuable resources and expand their leadership and parenting skills in spaces where families like ours are the norm, not the exception: all this thanks to Our Family Coalition’s work.

My son is now 12 years old. On the verge of his teen years, he wants to give back. He said to me,

“Mommy, I don’t have much money to donate. But I can give what I can spare.”

And he has been true to his word.

In addition to his modest donation, he has helped at our CampOuts. He helped kids with science projects at San Francisco Pride Family Garden, and helped kids make buttons declaring their family pride at Oakland Pride Family Garden.

It’s not always easy to get a tween to engage in something bigger than themselves. Yet when they do, they put their heart into it. My son sees the value of what OFC gives to the community and our family, and he wants to be a part of it. I couldn’t be more proud.

Won’t you join my son in supporting Our Family Coalition by making a generous donation today? 

Our grant and foundation funding only goes so far – we have to rely on our community to reciprocate, to give back in whatever way they can. We offer nearly all our family support services on a donation basis, counting on those who can to help us.

My son gives what he can, and that’s what I’m asking of you: please give what you can.

If you’ve ever attended a workshop that gave you information that helped you support or protect your family; if you’ve ever gone to a parenting class or a support group that helped you feel you weren’t the only one; if you’ve ever come to a playgroup or a community event and saw your child playing with a wide-open heart, surrounded by families that looked like yours: please donate what you think that information, or that belonging, or that community has been worth to you and your family. 

Your support will enable us to keep bringing our community together. Together, we build resilience and understanding. And with that, we can change the world.

Yours with pride,

Yusni Bakar

Family Support Programs Director