LGBT youth law, ignored

Mia Tu Mutch: "I need 12N because youth shouldn't have to educate adults."

Thirteen years ago, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors enacted an ordinance designed to make city services more accessible to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. Under Chapter 12N of the San Francisco Administrative Code, city departments must provide LGBT sensitivity training "to any employee or volunteer who has direct contact with youth." It also applies to any collaborative youth service providers who receive $50,000 or more in city funding.

Fueled with great intentions, 12N is the letter of the law in a city known for its tolerance and forward-thinking, progressive values. "San Francisco is committed to ensuring that LGBTQ youth receive the same level of dignity and respect as granted to all residents when encountering city services and programs," a statement on the Human Rights Commission website reads.

There's only one problem. With the exception of one department, 12N has never actually been implemented.

Last week, Paul Monge-Rodriguez, a 23-year-old appointee to the San Francisco Youth Commission, approached the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club to point out that 12N has never been put into practice.

"To this day, there's only one city department in compliance, and that's the Department of Public Health," Monge-Rodriguez explained in an interview with the Guardian. Other major service providers include the Human Services Agency, the Department of Children Youth & their Families, and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

An effort to push implementation, led by the Youth Commission, the Human Rights Commission and LYRIC — a nonprofit organization addressing issues facing LGBT youth — is gaining traction. Sup. John Avalos called for a hearing; following Monge-Rodriguez's presentation, the Milk Club voted to formally support the effort.

"We pass these laws, but then when it comes to putting it in action, we don't always live up to the legislation," Avalos told the Guardian. "Basically, the city hasn't implemented the program in terms of providing training for city staff."

Jodi Schwartz, executive director of LYRIC, argues that 12N implementation should involve collection of sexual orientation and transgender identity data so as to better inform agencies about the populations they serve. The San Francisco Unified School District is the only district nationwide that collects sexual orientation and gender identity data when studying risk behavior for middle and high school students — and the results of a 2011 SFUSD anonymous survey revealed an alarming number of suicide attempts reported among queer youth.

According to SFUSD's suicide indicators analysis, more than a third of high school students and nearly half of middle school students who self-identified as transgender reported having attempted suicide at some point; meanwhile, about a third of middle school students and about 17 percent of high school students who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual also reported having attempted suicide.

The data is based on extrapolations and assumes no overlap between transgender and LGB populations, and concrete data in this realm is generally difficult to obtain. But based on the SFUSD data, LYRIC estimated that more than 1,000 LGBT students in middle and high school had reported attempting suicide. It's a disturbing figure to say the least. If other agencies begin collecting such data, Schwartz argues, "they'll use it to inform their priorities as an institution."

Youth Commissioner Mia Tu Mutch, 22, helped create a training video that was shown to city staff at the Department of Public Health as part of a pilot program to initiate the sensitivity training mandated under 12N.

"Some of the stories talked about trans people feeling unsafe or unwelcome by service providers," she explained when asked about the video, which was not made publicly available. "One featured a gender-queer young person who felt more comfortable using gender-neutral terms, but the intake person went out of their way to use the wrong pronoun."

Tu Mutch worked with LYRIC to create a Tumblr site, entitled 12N Now or Never, featuring photographs of queer youth holding up signs asking for immediate 12N implementation. Her own sign reads, "I need 12N because youth shouldn't have to educate adults." Another message, posted by a young person named Vincent, reads, "I need 12N because I don't want my kids to be judged like I was."

"I think it just speaks to the bureaucratic process," David Miree, spokesperson for the Human Rights Commission, responded when asked about the long delay. "The great intentions were there to put it into an ordinance. But what had to happen was, there had to be someone, or some community, or some agency" to step in and make it happen.

Schwartz takes a different view on why so little has been done. "There's a lack of political will," she says, "to invest the resources to do the transformation that's necessary."


We really need to set up a commission with its own police force to make sure people use the proper pronouns when addressing someone of indeterminate sex. Also, being uncomfortable, even for a moment, about anything, should be made a hate crime.

Posted by Chromefields on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

1) You use the pronoun of their "destination gender" regardless of how much credible progress they have made towards that end

2) In a public place, one uses the bathroom corresponding to one's current gentalia. So, a pre-op M2F will use the mens; a post-op M2F will use the ladies.

3) The term "tranny" is either verboten, or deemed wryly self-effacing, depending on context.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 12:24 pm

Finally, an authoritative voice on the matter. I'll try to wean myself from using "he/she" as a noun. But I think "it" should be acceptable, at least during the resculpting of the naughty bits phase, as it's gender neutral in the world of punctuation, which is where "gender" actually comes from.

Posted by Chromefields on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 1:08 pm

"It" is neuter, not gender, and "it" also refers to inanimate and non human things. With a little effort, one can craft one's language so that avoiding what might offend is made up with awkward and tortured constructs.

We can expect for public sector and other customer facing operations to adopt changes like this.

But I'm not holding my breath on waiting for the general public to convince itself that it has to buy in anyone else's self construction, to know it before the fact, and craft their language in order to comport with transgender theory which is unsettled, evolving theory to say the least.

No matter who you are, one can't base one's self confidence and perception on how others view you. To thine own self, be true.

Either we can wait for everyone else to cater to every LGBT's need for self definition or we can try to move the vast majority into our column and then go on with living our lives.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

It's just not that important.

Posted by anon on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 1:31 pm

Thinking makes your brain hurt.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 10:13 pm

It's mostly tired old cliches so far.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2013 @ 7:13 am

If you are not sure some examples.

In the office

"Mi Amigo _______, could you give me the TPS reports to Lombergh"

at the bar

"Amigo, are those your nuts?"


You kill a lot of birds with that multicultural stone.

Posted by matlock on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 9:55 pm

one on gay marriage.

The expression "sore loser" comes to mind.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 12:20 pm

to ask is whether a liberal town like SF really needs to enact preferential governance based on ones' membership of a certain class?

That's not obvious to me.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 12:21 pm

Affirmative Action requires a set aside. What is the set aside?

Posted by marcos on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

Why is N12 needed?

The answer to that is assumed by the article, but not substantiated.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

It is not a set aside, it is legislating the conduct of government to accommodate changing community standards. Nobody is getting any extra of anything. This is about remedying ongoing discrimination, not redressing past discrimination.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

allocated on a non-proportionate basis merely because a perception exists that one class is unfairly disadvantaged over another.

That remains to be proven. And such action justified even if so demonstrated.

Posted by anon on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

and much harm has been done to the drive for more social justice by categorizing AA as prejudicially mediocritizing society in the name of imposed equity.

Posted by anon on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 12:53 pm

You meant apostrophes, not quotes, you possessed little troll.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

they realize they have lost the central debate.

Posted by anon on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 1:30 pm

Non Profit Inc see another opportunity to suck the city dry. Mia will make a great "diversity educator."

BTW - has anyone else had the misfortune of being forced to sit through one of these tedious trainings? The "facilitators" are basically engaging in paid therapy sessions with the unwilling participants as targets for their barely simmering rage. It's all a racket for the disaffected.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 2:14 pm

Who hasn't yawned and rolled their eyes thru one of these imposed, pointless seminars?

Posted by anon on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 2:26 pm

are the ones who really dig this business.

For a week or two the perpetual drags spout the non sense they heard at the meeting, it then passes and they are back to complaining about other aspects of their lives that are screwed up.

Posted by matlock on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 9:48 pm

This is what results in electing an endless string of idea peoples to office with absolutely no real world experience in anything.

The idea filled anti-manarchy dreams up these schemes and the problem is solved, then they move on to the next idea to write rules around. Then they run for a bigger office where they can make more meaninglessness.

Posted by matlock on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 6:15 pm

God. It's so depressing that after years of organizing to be treated as HUMAN BEINGS (not 'special' anything), the douchebags of the New San Francisco cannot see or understand that queer and trans youth flock to this city to find safety where it is violently denied them pretty much eveywhere else.

And yet, when they encounter the kind of vitriol that I am seeing spewed here on this forum, is it any wonder so many turn to high-risk behaviors? I work every day with queer and trans youth who are either homeless or very marginally housed. The assertion that transgender people do not experience discrimination (as Chromefields and all these 'Anonymous' and 'Guests' stated above) would be laughable if it wasn't so disheartening. Anyone with one iota of common sense can see (ahem, this thread proves the point) that visibly queer and gender non-conforming people get treated like crap by pretty much 99% of US society. Not because they have done anything wrong or tried to hurt anyone else, but simply for trying to live in a way that is honest to them.

I wish for one f**king second that every single one of you privileged dickwads who has never for a moment had to be made to feel ashamed, dirty, useless or unwanted could swap places with these young people and understand what it feels like to be hated just for being yourself.

The lack of empathy I see demonstrated in this city on a daily basis is disgusting. If you don't want to live around "trannies," queers, and other assorted freaks, then take your silicon valley asses back to the horrible suburbs from whence you came. We are sick of your boring, ugly bigotry destroying the city we've worked so hard to create as a safe, beautiful, and vibrant place where all sorts of people can be nurtured and valued.

Posted by Pike on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 5:24 pm

those who feel they cannot grow up and be adults in this country?

Maybe the city has grown up and has more ambition than just accumulating losers and freaks?

Had you maybe not thought of that?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 5:46 pm

You can't be serious that it is more dangerous, that there is more hate or violence for queer youth today than there was for recent previous generations.

There are fewer marginalized kids now, they face het families that are in general more accepting and generalized social homophobia and transphobia are less today than in decades past.

Sure those who are falling off of the edges need help, but that does not translate into the kind of generalized crisis that you say exists.

When advocates paint this horror story it simply does not resonate as accurate with those of us who have grown up with and grown through homophobic violence the likes of which you'll never know in places and times like Texas in the 1970s

Assuming that the trolls on this site represent anything but a marginalized sliver of angry conservatives is another error.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 5:47 pm

followed by descriptions of commenters as: "dickwads," "douchebags," "silicon valley asses," "horrible suburbs," "ugly bigotry."

Look up: cognitive dissonance.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 5:58 pm
Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 6:33 pm