LGBTQIA+ Ad Hoc Committee
The Commission on Human Rights LGBTQIA+ ad hoc committee was formed in June 2014 to create a conversation with LGBTQIA+ leaders and community representatives to discuss the ways in which the community can be better served and better represented.
Sonoma County is home to one of the highest per capita populations of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA+) persons in the country. As residents of California, the LGBTQIA+ community enjoys some of the most progressive legal protections anywhere, with state laws that specifically include sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression of both in its nondiscrimination statutes. Many LGBTQIA+ residents in Sonoma County find themselves well-integrated into the day-to-day reality in their professional and social lives here. Our County's LGBTQIA+ community is very broad, reflecting the County population as a whole. It includes the age, race, culture, religious and socio-economic diversity of who we are.
However, the LGBTQIA+ community in Sonoma County is also fragmented. Despite its numbers, the community’s voice is not well-represented in policy-making. While there exist a few groups that provide social forums for networking, they are not readily accessible to all members of the LGBTQIA+ community. LGBTQIA+ youth, economically disadvantaged individuals, people in the health care systems, elders, culturally isolated people, and “closeted” or “covering” individuals have few avenues for connecting with an LGBTQIA+ community in Sonoma County.
The purpose of the LGBTQIA+ ad hoc committee is to assess the state of the LGBTQIA+ community in Sonoma County and make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors based on the determinations made in the following areas:
- Identifying human rights issues that LGBTQIA+ persons in the county face due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity;
- The need and opportunity for creating an infrastructure that ensures the diverse LGBTQIA+ community is intentionally represented in the public policy processes of the County, so that that LGBTQIA+ employees of Sonoma County are able to self-identify in any employee climate surveys or career tracking processes;
- That state laws and County policies that specifically ensure inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ community (e.g., California AB1266) are implemented as intended;
- The opportunities for including the broad LGBTQIA+ as a specific target for economic development (specifically noting the history of Guerneville as a tourist destination); and,
- The value in creating an independent Sonoma County LGBTQIA+ Commission to develop and monitor the recommendations of the Task Force, and related issues and recommendations as they evolve.
Commissioner Phillips, Commissioner Burcina, and Commisioner Cruz Reyes