Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 41 / 12 October 2017

Gov signs LGBT data bill

Assemblyman David Chiu. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Assemblyman David Chiu. Photo: Rick Gerharter

California Governor Jerry Brown on Friday signed into law Assembly Bill 677, which is meant to help ensure that public policy in the state meets the needs its LGBT residents.

In a news release, Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), the bill’s author, said, “I want to thank Governor Brown for understanding the obstacles facing LGBT communities and for helping to eliminate educational and employments disparities. Good information will move us closer to full equality.”

AB 677 builds on data collection best practices by requiring education and employment-related government agencies to collect voluntarily provided sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data when collecting other demographic data.

Aggregated SOGI data collected pursuant to this bill will be reported to the Legislature and made publicly available.

Additionally, under the bill, schools that participate in the California Healthy Kids Survey will be prohibited from removing the question about sexual orientation and gender identity.

In the 2015-16 school year, the state’s Department of Education reported that 16 percent of participating school districts selectively removed the SOGI question. Last year, about 9 percent of school districts removed the same question.

LGBTs face disproportionately high rates of homelessness, poverty, suicide, and low rates of health insurance, among other problems, Chiu’s office said, and “These issues are more prevalent for youth and seniors, communities of color, and transgender and undocumented communities.”

Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, which sponsored the bill, stated AB 677 “will help give us a better picture of California’s LGBTQ community, where we live and what our needs are. LGBTQ people are especially vulnerable in the workplace and in the classroom, and this bill will help us to continue to address the many disparities our community suffers compared to the general public.”

The bill takes effect January 1, 2018, and state agencies will be required to comply with its provisions no later than July 1, 2019.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, October 13, 2017 @ 4:20 pm PST
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Oakland doctor accused of sexual misconduct

A doctor in Oakland is being accused of masturbating and fondling a patient who’d been assaulted at his job.

Through her complaint against Dr. George N. Queeley, Medical Board of California Executive Director Kimberly Kirchmeyer seeks to have Queeley’s certificate revoked or suspended, among other actions.

[Update]: In a notice distributed Thursday, October 12, the board said that Queeley had agreed to surrender his license. [End update]

According to the complaint, filed September 22, the patient, who works as a caregiver, had been referred to Queeley after someone “punched him in the nose and struck him over the back with a walker.”

On January 19, the patient met with Queeley, who’s an occupational medicine physician, alone in an exam room.

Queeley allegedly told the patient, who presented with elevated blood pressure, to take off his shirt. Queeley then allegedly touched the patient’s face, the complaint says.

Next, Queeley allegedly told the patient “to lay face down on the examination table,” pulled down the patient’s pants, “and began massaging his buttocks.”

Queeley then asked the patient to turn over, according to the complaint. After the patient complied, Queeley allegedly “pulled down the front of patient’s pants and began caressing patient’s penis and testicles, while asking patient if he had a boyfriend (sic).”

The doctor briefly left the room and came back with lubricant.

He “placed the lubricant on patient’s penis and began masturbating him with his left hand. Soon after, patient ejaculated and respondent licked the semen off his hand and patient’s penis (sic),” the complaint says.

Queeley then allegedly performed oral sex on the patient, and afterward, he told the patient “that he performs private massages.” He set up a follow-up appointment for the next week and gave the patient a document limiting contact with his client at work and restricting his physical movement.

According to the complaint, the patient, who filed a police report, “later told police that he was in shocked and felt lifeless as the events transpired.

In a pretext phone call between the patient and Queeley, Queeley “admitted to masturbating [the] patient in the exam room,” the complaint says.

Among other allegations, the complaint says, the medical record that Queeley created is incomplete, given the patient’s police report and Queeley’s “admission of sexual misconduct.” Queeley’s also accused of failing “to provide an adequate occupational medicine assessment” for the patient’s “possible nasal fracture.”

Oakland police told the Bay Area Reporter they couldn’t find any records matching a description of the incident.

Queeley, whom the medical board certified in 1967, didn’t respond to an interview request. The patient’s name isn’t listed in the complaint.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, October 11, 2017 @ 3:38 pm PST
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Man stabbed in home near Duboce Triangle

A man was stabbed by another man early Friday in his home near the Duboce Triangle neighborhood, according to police.

The 5:45 a.m. incident occurred when the suspect, 50, followed the victim, 53, into his home in the unit block of Sanchez Street. A struggle ensued and the suspect stabbed the victim with a knife, police said.

Police arrived and arrested the suspect. The victim was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Police have not released the suspect’s name.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:44 pm PST
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Trans farm workers celebrate in Salinas parade, reflect on work

Roselyn Macias (Photo: Seth Hemmelgarn)

Roselyn Macias (Photo: Seth Hemmelgarn)

On a recent Saturday afternoon in Salinas, several women wearing traditional Mexican dresses with colorful stripes and flowers rode in the back of a black Toyota pickup truck in the El Grito parade, the annual event marking Mexico’s independence from Spain.

As they made their way along the route among contingents that included people riding prancing horses and a high school marching band, the group exchanged waves and smiles with spectators. Another member of the women’s contingent wore a glittering tiara and a “Miss Conexiones 2017″ sash as she sat in the back of a Mustang convertible, representing the group for transgender women that meets monthly at a nonprofit that’s near the start of the parade.

The route, which would wind its way about three miles around the south part of the city, passed places like the Foods Co where people have been known to gather daily at 5 a.m. in the hopes of getting picked up for work in the nearby fields.

It’s the kind of work that the women in Conexiones know well. The group, which is hosted by the nonprofit California Rural Legal Assistance, offers a place for the women to share their stories and support each other.

This is the second year they’ve participated in the El Grito parade. Like the parade, Conexiones provides a break from the fields and ranches where many of them spend their workdays, picking strawberries, artichokes, and other crops. It’s work that would be hard for anyone, regardless of orientation or gender identity.

Several Conexiones members met for an interview September 16 a couple hours before the parade in CRLA’s pink brick, one-story Salinas headquarters to talk about their experiences.

Hard work

Roselyn Macias, who’s been coming to Conexiones for several years, now drives a watering truck to tamp down the dust on the dirt roads of ranches in the area, but her first job was in the fields.

“It’s hard work, especially the artichokes,” said Macias. “It’s hard work walking down the field with your bag, especially when it’s full and you have to walk across the other side” to unload it.

When one of the bags is full, Macias said, “It probably weighs more than 100 pounds.”

And it’s not like the fields are always flat. Many are sloped, so workers may end up walking up or down hills with the heavy loads on their backs.

Lisa Cisneros, CRLA’s program director, said that when she was 17, she briefly worked in the fields. She said after hearing family members’ experiences, “I wanted to see for myself” what it was like, she said, so she and a friend got a spot on an all-women’s crew.

Cisneros had been on the state cross-country team, and she was in great shape.

“I wanted to be the fastest picker in the strawberry crew,” said Cisneros.

She and her friend lasted a week.

By the second day, “I had to lie down in the furrows. … I was stretched out in the muck on my back,” she said. Meanwhile, “everybody else in the field was on the other side already.”

“I did not think it was going to be difficult for my physically,” but it was “the most physically arduous experience I’d ever had before,” said Cisneros.

Extra challenges

On top of the physical challenges, being transgender can make the work even harder.

Jessica said she’s had “lots of bad experiences” in the fields.

Legally, her first name is still male, which makes things “very hard, especially when the crew leader gives out the check,” she said. When the leader calls out her name “people turn to look.”

“If he’s in a good mood, he calls me by my last name,” said Jessica.

Estefani said, “It’s really difficult to work in the fields. … Coworkers and crew leaders constantly discriminate against us,” even over restroom use.

She also recalled times when she and a transgender friend would take their lunch break.

“We would always be by ourselves,” she said. “Nobody wanted to hang out with us.”

At other times, a crew leader would tell her to cut the lettuce they were working in, even though that task is usually reserved for men. Women typically pack the cut leaves.

“The crew leader would see that no one would help us,” she said. He’d tell her, “You could cut it because you’re a man.”

Estefani felt like she and others were being pressured to leave.

It’s as if “they think we’re some sort of monster, that we’re going to do something to them,” she said.

Conexiones member Tania said in response to emailed questions that she’s worked in the strawberry fields for three months.

It’s “a new experience,” said Tania.

It’s “been a little difficult” and the work is “a bit heavy,” she said. She indicated that at first, other workers didn’t see her, but now, she gets along with them.

“I love to live here in Salinas,” said Tania. “I also love my job.”

Although supervisors have become more respectful, there needs to be more training on LGBT issues, said Macias, whom coworkers have approached with their troubles.

“If there’s something wrong, I try to listen to them, and I try to fix the problem,” she said.

Even though the work is tough, Macias said the environment for transgender women is “getting better year by year,” and Estefani said that after being on a crew for a while, “you get to know the people, and they’re even nice to you.”

Few options

Finding other jobs has been difficult for many of the women.

“There are very few options for us,” said Estefani.

Because of discrimination, she said, when transgender people go to a place like Carl’s Jr. for a job, “they’re not going to say no.” Instead, they say, “We’ll call you later,” and then they never call.

Macias said another problem comes when prospective employers call former bosses for references, and the old bosses don’t understand who the call is about because they only recognize women by their former names.

In the fields, “they don’t ask for a resume,” she said. “They don’t ask for your past work” experience.

While they may have had few options in the past, the women are looking forward to more opportunities.

Macias said she’d like to get into a field like nursing, since there’s a lack of transgender women working in hospitals. She’s planning to start going to school part-time.

Jessica, who’s worked in strawberries, lettuce, and broccoli, would like to have a restaurant or another business.

“I don’t want to work in the fields my whole life,” she said. “… It’s very, very, very hard on you.”

Estefani, who had similar feelings, thinks about opening a beauty salon some day.

“I want to be the owner, because working in the fields, it’s pretty hard on you,” she said. “You can’t do it your whole life.”

‘Respect and equality’

Salinas is known more for its farm fields than for any liberal attitudes, but the Conexiones parade contingent didn’t seem to stir any controversy.

Tania said this was her second time in the parade.

“I loved it from the beginning, because I think it’s a way to let us see people,” and for “people to see that we are there and we exist and that we are not bad and we want respect and equality,” she said.

As she watched the group make its way down the street, Maggie Cardenas, a lifelong Salinas resident who was there with her three young children, said simply, “Transgender … Interesting.”

Cardenas, who hadn’t been to the parade before, said she was “surprised” to see the contingent, but she said, “It’s a good thing,” since it’s “showing more open-mindedness in the community.”

Sergio Sanchez, president of the Comité Cultural de Salinas, which organizes the parade and festival, said in a phone interview that he thinks Conexiones is “a great group, and I really appreciate their willingness to participate in the parade and activities,” which drew more than 55,000 people.

“We feel very strongly about being inclusive and diverse,” especially given “what our country is going through and some of this sentiment against immigrants and people of color and people of the LGBT community,” said Sanchez, who added the committee’s “honored to have them be part of our celebration. We celebrate culture, and we celebrate heritage, and we celebrate al the great things that our communities have.”

Interviews with Jessica and Estefani were conducted with the help of a translator provided by CRLA. The email interview with Tania was translated through Google Translate.

Macias was the only worker who gave permission to publish her last name.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:11 pm PST
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Brown signs HIV decriminalization, sex offender bills

Governor Jerry Brown

Governor Jerry Brown

Governor Jerry Brown on Friday signed into law two closely watched bills that had been shepherded by gay Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). The first bill, SB 239, aims to decriminalize HIV. The second bill, SB 384, is designed to allow many gay men to come off the state’s sex offender registry.

SB 239, which was authored by Wiener and gay freshman Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), updates state criminal law to approach HIV transmission in the same way as transmission of other serious communicable diseases. The law also updates state statutes based on the current understanding of HIV prevention, transmission, and treatment. Additionally, it fulfills a key goal of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. With SB 239 becoming law, California joins Colorado and Iowa as the first states to modernize HIV laws.

“Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals,” Wiener said in a statement. “HIV should be treated like all other serious infectious diseases, and that’s what SB 239 does. We are going to end new HIV infections, and we will do so not by threatening people with state prison time, but rather by getting people to test and providing them access to care. I want to thank Governor Brown for his support in helping to put California at the forefront of a national movement to reform these discriminatory laws.”

Gloria stated, “State law will no longer discourage Californians from getting tested for HIV. With the governor’s signature today, we are helping to reduce the stigma that keeps some from knowing their HIV status and getting into treatment to prevent additional infections.”

One of SB 239’s sponsors was the statewide LGBT group Equality California, which had tried unsuccessfully for years to get someone in the state Legislature to take on HIV decriminalization before Wiener and Gloria picked it up. Both lawmakers were elected to their legislative seats last fall.

Rick Zbur, EQCA’s executive director, stated, “Our understanding of HIV and its transmission have moved into the 21st century, but California law was mired in the 1980s. With his signature, Governor Brown has eliminated laws that unfairly stigmatized and criminalized people living with HIV and taken a big step forward to advance public health in our state.”

Sex offender registry will change 

SB 384, which Wiener authored, reforms the state’s sex offender registry.

California has been one of only four states where all sex offenders, ranging from violent predators to men caught having sex in public parks, are treated the same with lifetime registration. SB 384 creates a tiered registry: High-risk offenders will be on the registry for life, and others will be able to petition for removal after either 10 or 20 years without reoffending, depending on the offense. Removal for offenders in Tiers 1 and 2 won’t be automatic.

SB 384 becomes effective January 1, 2018, and grants three years before eligible registrants can begin the process to petition to be removed from the registry.

Wiener stated, “California’s sex offender registry is broken, which undermines public safety. SB 384 refocuses the sex offender registry on high-risk offenders and treats low-level offenders more fairly. I’m grateful for Governor Brown’s support. I want to thank the broad coalition behind this bill, including law enforcement, rape crisis centers, and social justice advocates. With this reform, our law enforcement agencies will be able to better protect people from violent sex offenders rather than wasting resources tracking low-level offenders who pose little or no risk of repeat offense. Our sex offender registry is a tool used to prevent and investigate crimes, and these changes will make it a better and more effective tool for keeping our communities safe.”

SB 384’s sponsors included EQCA, the Los Angeles District Attorney, the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Zbur stated, “California law and police practices that targeted LGBTQ people with entrapment and discrimination have changed for the better. But thousands of LGBTQ people still find themselves on California’s sex offender registry for behavior that harmed no one, was motivated by discriminatory police enforcement practices and that would not be prosecuted today. Governor Brown’s signature will restore livelihoods and help restore the registry as a tool for investigating those who pose a real danger to society.”

Sandra Hernandez, CEO of California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, stated, “SB 384 marks an important success in legislation for CALCASA and the movement to end sexual violence. This reform promotes better measures for public safety, better practices in allocating resources, and centers survivors voices in the need for offender rehabilitation and a system that promotes community health, prevention, and safety beyond monitoring.”

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley also praised the new law.

“SB 384 fixes an antiquated, ineffective, 70-year-old system and provides the essential safeguards for public safety,” O’Malley stated. “This bill proposes a balanced and measured reform of this system, allowing prosecutors and law enforcement to focus their resources on tracking sex offenders who pose a real risk to public safety.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, October 6, 2017 @ 4:21 pm PST
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Teen robbed in Duboce Triangle

A man robbed a 14-year-old girl Wednesday afternoon at 14th and Market streets in the Duboce Triangle neighborhood, police said.

At about 3 p.m., the suspect approached the victim, pushed her, and wrestled away her cellphone and debit card before fleeing the scene, according to police.

The victim wasn’t injured. The suspect was described as a 19-year-old Asian male.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, October 5, 2017 @ 11:52 am PST
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Group of 12 assaults, robs teen in Dolores Park

A group of a dozen people assaulted and robbed a 17-year-old boy in Dolores Park Wednesday afternoon, according to police.

Between 2 and 6:35 p.m., 12 people approached the victm, assaulted him, and took his belt, cellphone, wallet, and cash, police said. They then fled in an unknown direction.

The victim wasn’t injured. No descriptions of the suspects were available.

Concerns about safety in the park have increased in recent months, especially after an August shooting in which three people were injured.

Mission Station Police Captain Bill Griffin said shortly after the shooting that officers were in the park every day, rather than just on weekends, since the incident. He said at the time that the staffing pattern would continue.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 11:45 am PST
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Man arrested for robbing Castro shop

A man was arrested Saturday after he and another man stole alcohol from a store in the Castro.

Police said that at about 1:30 a.m., two employees at the shop, which is in the 3900 block of 18th Street, saw the two suspects take alcohol and leave the store without paying. The workers confronted the suspects, and a fight ensued.

The suspects, described as a 20-year-old Hispanic male and a black male in his 20s, fled northbound on Noe Street. The first suspect was later taken into custody, police said.

Police don’t usually release the names of businesses involved in robberies, but the description of the shop fits the 7-11 at 3998 18th Street. No one answered the phone at the store Wednesday night.

Police haven’t released the name of the suspect who was arrested.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, October 4, 2017 @ 5:57 pm PST
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SF police, supes announce more cops to fight car break-ins, other crimes

Police Chief William Scott

Police Chief William Scott

Police Chief William Scott joined Supervisors Norman Yee and Hillary Ronen Wednesday to announce the city’s dedicating police staffing at all district stations to fight care break-ins, bike thefts, and other property crimes.

“Year-to-date, San Francisco has experienced a 25 percent increase in car break-ins –19,975 auto burglaries compared to 15,934 last year,” Scott said in a news release. “To change the course of this chronic issue, the San Francisco Police Department is committed to assigning the necessary personnel and resources to reduce car burglaries in our city. I agree to dedicate staffing to combat car break-ins, bike theft, and property crimes at each district station. We’ve also doubled foot patrols citywide and have launched a public education campaign to help prevent car break-ins.”

Yee (District 7) and Ronen (District 9) were set to introduce legislation to dedicate the staffing Wednesday at the Public Safety & Neighborhood Services Committee, but Scott agreed to immediately implement the policy without having to proceed with the ordinance.

“Chief Scott is showing true leadership by answering this long overdue plea,” stated Yee. “As city leaders, we heard loud and clear that residents have had enough. Car break-ins, bike thefts, and home burglaries have gotten out of control. This is an issue that affects everyday residents and deserves our unimpeded attention.”

Ronen stated, “Car break-ins and bike theft are not victimless crimes. Many people living in my district [which includes the Mission neighborhood] are low-income and rely on their cars and bikes to get to work and school. These thefts can be devastating for them. My constituents deserve real action and I’m 100 percent committed to making sure the police have all the resources they need to staff up in order to stop these crimes. I’m ready and willing to introduce a budget supplemental as soon as Chief Scott says the word.”

Last year, Yee worked with the city’s police commission to establish the Task Force on Strategic Police Staffing & Deployment, which is currently determining citywide police staffing levels based on population growth, workload, and other factors, officials said.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 3:45 pm PST
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Governor signs Wiener’s LGBT seniors bill

Photo residents of Stonewall Garden

A new California law will help LGBT seniors and other residents of longterm-care facilities throughout the state, such as the above residents of Stonewall Gardens, an LGBT-affirming senior assisted living community in Palm Springs.

Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed into law gay Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) Senate Bill 219, which is meant to create an LGBT Senior Bill of Rights for people who live in long-term care facilities.

“Our LGBT seniors built the modern LGBT community and led the fight for so many of the rights our community takes for granted today,” Wiener said in a statement. “It is our duty to make sure they can age with the dignity and respect they deserve. I want to thank Governor Brown for joining our coalition in supporting this bill, which will make a real difference in people’s lives. The LGBT Senior Bill of Rights is an important step in our fight to ensure all people are treated equally regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The law aims to protect LGBT seniors from discrimination in long-term care facilities, such as a facility refusing to use someone’s preferred name or pronoun, or moving someone within a facility or to another facility because of other residents’ LGBT attitudes.

Additionally, SB 219 requires that all long-term care facilities post notices regarding this form of discrimination where their current non-discrimination policies are posted.

Equality California sponsored the bill, which was co-authored by Assemblymembers David Chiu (D-San Francisco), Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona), Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), and Ash Kalra (D-San Jose.)

EQCA Executive Director Rick Zbur said in a statement, “LGBTQ seniors fought some of the first and most difficult battles for LGBTQ civil rights and deserve our protection. Many of our elders have no children or other family members to care for them and are especially vulnerable to abuse or neglect in long-term care. SB 219 will help ensure that care facilities provide culturally-competent care.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 3:10 pm PST
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