North Bay LGBTQI Families is dedicated to supporting LGBTQIA+ families and advancing equity in the greater Sonoma County region through community building, education, and advocacy. Throughout the year we typically offer play dates and other family-friendly gatherings, as well as workshops and events designed to provide families with resources and information regarding things like school advocacy, family building, and how to promote gender-affirming and equitable environments across our communities.
Due to public health considerations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, since spring 2020 we have been focused on meeting the needs of our community to the greatest degree possible through online spaces, programs, and support. However, as of summer 2021 we are beginning to participate in and host outdoor in-person events in accordance with masking, social distancing, and other safety guidelines. Check our events page to learn more about those offerings, and read more below about our ongoing efforts and initiatives.
Support for Gender Expansive Youth Under Age 12
North Bay LGBTQI Families offers monthly social and family support gatherings for gender expansive kids under the age of 12. We have shifted these gatherings from an online to an in-person format as of July 2021, though we plan to continue offering an online component and will adjust our format as needed in accordance with conditions related to public health and fire season.
Our goal through this program is to provide a hangout space where gender expansive young people can meet new friends, participate in fun activities, learn from older members of the community, and build community connection. During these gatherings, we also offer a parent/caregiver space during which family members can ask questions of our presenters, discuss challenges they may be facing, and offer input regarding what they would like to see from this area of programming in the future. For these events we welcome guest facilitators from our community each month.
If you have a gender expansive child under age 12 and would be interested in attending but haven’t joined us before, please fill out our registration form to receive further information. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, and/or if you are interested in being a guest presenter at one of these meetings (authors, health care providers, and trans community members are some of the guests we have previously welcomed or have plans to welcome).
Intersectional Advocacy for Equity in Our Schools
Another core area of programming for North Bay LGBTQI Families is intersectional advocacy for safe, equitable, diverse, and welcoming school environments for all students. Through our work, we are seeking policy, curriculum, and school culture changes by participating in school board and LCAP meetings, collaborating with local groups, and supporting community organizing.
In May 2021 we collaborated with members of the Sonoma County LGBTQIA+ Coalition to draft and send an open letter to all Sonoma County school districts and school sites urging them to allocate pandemic response government funding to supporting LGBTQIA+ student wellness in light of the unique impacts the pandemic has had on this student population, particularly with regard to mental health.
We also worked with Petaluma City Schools to present an April 2021 Parent Education Night on supporting LGBTQIA+ elementary students in collaboration with community partners including Positive Images LGBTQIA+ Center, LGBTQ Connection/Promotores de Amor, Amor Para Todos, and Petaluma TIDE. You can view the recording of that session here.
Additionally, at the start of the 2020-21 school year we worked with some of our partner organizations to develop this resource document for educators on how to support LGBTQIA+ students during distance and hybrid learning, particularly given the risks that increased social isolation and a potential lack of safety or support at home can present for this student population.
We are also collaborating on an ongoing basis with local entities to make trainings available for Sonoma County educators and schools on implementing California’s FAIR Act through coursework and creating LGBTQIA+ affirming virtual and in-person school environments.
In addition, we are seeking equitable change through efforts including advocating for the implementation of Ethnic Studies curriculum in local school districts, as well as dialogue and policy changes around addressing campus discrimination and harassment based on race, gender, and/or LGBTQIA+ status in a manner that centers youth voices and experiences. North Bay LGBTQI Families has also participated in a coalition dedicated to addressing the equity aspects of distance learning and COVID-19 impacts in Petaluma, which has included advocating for subsidized in-person supervision or childcare during school hours for working families.
Intergenerational Community Building & Outreach to LGBTQIA+ Seniors
North Bay LGBTQI Families is excited to be developing a variety of plans for intergenerational community building and outreach LGBTQIA+ seniors in our local community. Read more on our events page about our upcoming offerings, and stay tuned for more announcements!
Every year North Bay LGBTQI Families hosts an all-day symposium that includes a number of workshops (as well as family-friendly activities, entertainment, and child care) designed to help caregivers and families learn more about rights and opportunities that they can access. Throughout spring 2021 we hosted a series of workshops (in a virtual format due to COVID-19) on Family Building for LGBTQIA+ People, Legal Protections for LGBTQIA+ Families, and Intersectional School Advocacy. Stay tuned for announcements regarding our 2022 Symposium!
Ongoing Community Building & Family Events
In addition to the programs described above, North Bay LGBTQI Families offers family-friendly events and social gatherings for LGBTQIA+ families all year long and that are planned in accordance with applicable pandemic-related public health guidelines. For example, in fall 2020 we offered a Virtual Pumpkin Carving event, and in spring 2021 we hosted a drive-thru egg hunt where families could pick up treat baskets for kiddos. Future offerings are likely to include things like book readings by LGBTQIA+ authors.