The Spahr Center is firmly committed to public policy advocacy. We aim to strengthen the current government response to the needs of LGBTQ+ people and people living with and affected by HIV in Marin. We are increasing our presence with County Boards and Commissions, and describing our needs in several processes that will result in long-term health improvement plans. Policy makers have been great about listening, and LGBTQ+ people are increasingly recognized in key documents and conversations that will drive resource allocation.
On January 23, 2020 forty-two constituents participated in The Spahr Center’s first LGBTQ+ and HIV Advocacy Day, learning how to have an effective meeting with a legislator, and then holding one-hour meetings with all 5 members of the Marin County Board of Supervisors. It was an exhilarating and moving day. We want to warmly thank Supervisors Rice, Arnold, Connoly, Rodoni, and Sears, as well as their very helpful aides, for the generous time and thoughtfulness they devoted to these visits. Our thanks as well to SAGA, the County’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group, for their support.
The day was a really wonderful opportunity to update the Supervisors on the work of The Spahr Center, discuss key challenges facing our communities, and make three specific requests for their leadership to assure the well-being of LGBTQ+ people and people living with and affected by HIV. Our requests are being studied, and we will keep you posted on the outcome.
The highlight of the day absolutely was the powerful stories our advocates told the Supervisors about their experience of living in Marin and the issues they face. Our HIV+ clients, queer youth, LGBTQ seniors, parents of transgender youth, and others had the Supervisors’ rapt attention as they were educated about our needs and aspirations. At the end of the day, one official who participated wrote this, and it perfectly captured the impact of the day:
This was an extremely useful investment of time. There are many well-intentioned people who don’t fully understand what people go through on this journey of discovering their true selves, and hearing the personal stories was moving and educational. How can we know and come to understand if we don’t hear these stories? I feel very fortunate to have shared these moments with the people who spoke. The speakers reinforced the need for an organization like The Spahr Center to thrive.
Thank you to the advocates who so generously gave their time and energy to make Advocacy Day so impactful! It was a remarkable group, and we are pleased to report that they found the day as meaningful and inspirational as The Spahr Center Board and staff did.
To learn more about the content of the day, please review the information packet that was presented to the members of the Board of Supervisors here. We will keep Spahrkle readers well-informed about future advocacy events and opportunities.