REDWOOD CITY -- The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday whether to establish a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Commission, which supporters tout as the first of its kind in California.
The nine-member commission would advise the board on policy, bring greater visibility to the LGBT community, and provide a forum for individuals to air their concerns. There were roughly 1,970 same-sex couples in San Mateo County in 2010, according to a census analysis conducted by the Williams Institute of UCLA Law School.
The resolution establishing the commission was co-sponsored by Supervisors Adrienne Tissier and Dave Pine, the latter of whom was approached with the idea in February by Stanford University junior Jason Galisatus, a graduate of Aragon High School in San Mateo.
The commission would examine ways to improve the well-being of those in the LGBT community, particularly among underserved and minority populations, and promote inclusion for transgender individuals. It would also focus on reducing bullying, an area where Galisatus has some experience.
While at Aragon, Galisatus helped organize a silent "black Friday" protest in 2008 after the passage of Proposition 8, a statewide ban on same-sex marriage that has since been overturned. Most students at the school wore black in solidarity with their LGBT classmates, but several students lashed out at Galisatus, yelling epithets in his face.
"It was a pretty shocking experience," he said, "especially growing up in the Bay Area, where you think you would be safe."
Even though San Mateo County is politically liberal, its gay population is not as visible as others in the state. San Mateo County ranked 14th out of 58 counties in the state in percentage of same-sex couples, according to the Williams Insitute.
Other California jurisdictions have human rights commissions that address LGBT concerns, according to a staff report prepared for Tuesday's board meeting, but there do not appear to be any city or county commissions focused specifically on those issues.
San Francisco, for example, has a Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Advisory Committee that serves under the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, but it does not advise the San Francisco Board of Supervisors directly.
Pine said he would like San Mateo County's commission, if approved, to serve as a model for other cities and counties in the United States.
Contact Aaron Kinney at 650-348-4357. Follow him at Twitter.com/kinneytimes.