Human Rights in Oceanside: LGBTQ Candidate Questionnaire 2016

Hello, I was recently asked 2 questions by Max, the director at the Nortth County LQBTQ Resource Center. Here are my responses (link to all candidates who chose to respond at:

LGBTQ Center:

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) publishes an annual Municipality Equality Index (MEI) score for over 400 municipalities in the United States that rates the quality and efficacy of nondiscrimination laws, the enforcement of those laws, and a city’s overall relationship to the LGBT community, among other things. HRC rated 55 California cities in 2015; in North County, Escondido received an MEI score of 60 (out of 100), while Oceanside received an MEI score of 97.

What changes, if any, would you make to maintain or improve your office’s relationship to its LGBT constituents?

CM Rocco:

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Municipality Equality Index (MEI) scored our city of Oceanside with a score of 97 out of 100 points. This is a sign of true progress and is testament to a small group of individuals in our community organizing for justice and making a true difference in the lives of others.

However, the work is hardly over.  Our rating of 97 includes bonus points and our score is a baseline of 87.  Even though we can only get rated a 100, we must strive for 120 maximum points. It is of my belief that to achieve continued and expanded success it is critical to formally establish a Human Rights Commission.

There is a need for modeling best practices of other cities, corporations and even globally to stay on the cusp of advancement. This would include assessing laws, policies and procedures on all levels of the city, its agencies and institutions (Ex. schools) to implement a strategy specific to transgender individuals.

I will request all council member to proactively reach out to our community engage in conversations and activities at the new and exciting LGBTQ Center.  It is up to us to embrace equality on a highly visible level.  It is giving others the same level of respect and rights that the majority has come to expect.

A long term goal would be to establish human rights criterion and assessment of local businesses and honor our LGBTQ friendly businesses by the city HR Commission according to a form of Equality Index.

LGBTQ Center:  Many scientific studies have concluded that 40% of homeless youth (ages 12-24) are LGBT, which is disproportionate to the 10% representation in the general population. [Source: National Alliance to End Homelessness]. Homeless youth are at a much higher risk of victimization by human traffickers, hate crimes, unsafe sexual practices, mental illness, and suicide. Lack of affordable housing is cited as the primary reason for youth homelessness.

How would you use your office to address the problem of homeless LGBT youth?

CM Rocco:

If we all look back to being young, we all remember the need for acceptance, the pressure of peers, the first day of high school, even our first prom. Now imagine a scenario where you know you are LGBT or Q and that you are unable to talk to your parents and be constantly hiding who you are.  Instead of a pimple, you are so scared at the thought of prom because you are in love with a member of the same sex and fear mockery or being bullied.

It is incredibly critical as a leader in government that Oceanside embraces the facts that LGBTQ children live throughout our community and many are screaming inside for help.  It is important to prevent our kid’s homelessness before it happens. Naturally we need institutional changes to provide sensitivity training to the gatekeepers of children’s lives from teachers, law enforcement, coaches etc. but this is just a start.

Visibility of out-reach and LGBTQ support services must be established. The LGBTQ Center and establishment of a city HR Commission can guide us.  Kids need to be helped in becoming aware of how and where to get help before a tragedy occurs. A great start may be the establishment of a page on our (City) website dedicated to LGBTQ services for adults and youth.  School websites and bulletin boards need to display LGBTQ hotlines and suicide hotlines like The Trevor Project.  A place like the Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco could be established within our borders. We can do this!

Many places have already implemented programs that help governments, schools and groups to help kids.  Best practices already exist. We need to learn, follow and then begin to innovate ways to help our kids and keep them safe and feel included. I want to help prevent avoidable isolation and loneliness.

Everything is possible and our youth deserve our best. I pledge to support and be engaged in the LGBTQ community of Oceanside and keep our community visible, especially for our youth because they need to know where to go when they need help and that they will be embraced for being exactly who they are.


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