“Ok, Groomer!”

Dear Pride Family,

During McCarthyism and the Lavender Scare, the Briggs Initiative, Prop 8, and right now with record numbers of anti-LGBTQ pieces of legislation popping up around the country, we are hearing the same tired, dangerous lies and misinformation being told about us as our community is again used as a political wedge. Right-wing extremists have let it be known that our community and our youth will yet again be used as a political wedge issue at least through the general election in November of 2024.  Coupled with these political attacks are always messages meant to spin a false narrative about us and put us in harm’s way. “Save our children” or the newer “Ok, groomer,” they will say, and in turn violence towards our community increases

The reality is many of these new political attacks target LGBTQ youth putting them at risk of violence and negatively impacting their mental health. While we live in California, the other hard reality too many often forget is that even here, LGBTQ youth are too often raise by unsupportive families which, as many of us know, can lead to trauma, lack of financial support, becoming unsheltered, and lower educational outcomes that all have long-lasting impacts across our lives.

So, how does Pride help here in San Diego?

Policy & Practices: As educators, administrators, guardians, and youth head back to school, I highly recommend using our LGBTQ+ Youth Standards of Care as a road map. It contains essential benchmarks and links to external resources to help us best serve our LGBTQ students.

LGBTQ Youth Connection: Even one supportive adult can save an LGBTQ young person’s life. At Pride, we have daily, weekly, and monthly programs in-person and virtually for LGBTQ youth. Our youth-led curriculum includes art, music, advocacy, and more in a fun and friendly environment. You can take a look at all of our youth programs and find links to our other LGBTQ youth-serving partner organizations here.

Direct Action: Anti-LGBTQ extremists have organized all over San Diego County, protesting school boards, libraries, and community organizations that openly support LGBTQ youth. Our advocacy works year-round to identify threats of protest across the region and ensures local residents are able to mobilize in response and counter the hateful lies meant to rip away LGBTQ policies and events there to help our community. You can learn more and join our advocacy team here.

Capacity Building: Our Pride Youth Leadership Academy is in its 11th year. A day-long summit where junior high, high school, and transitional-age LGBTQ youth come to learn about their rights, resources, and leadership skills so they can be their own best advocate in their schools and communities. Over the last few years, we added a track for adults who may be parents, guardians, educators, and administrators so they can also know their rights and advocate for their students and families. 

Youth Leadership Academy is probably my favorite day of the year because while our youth are learning, they are also making new friendships and found-family connections. There’s just so much queer joy that day! 

We have to break the cycle of LGBTQ youth being severed from the history, laws, and legacy we have all fought for. We must be intentional about how we connect our intergenerational movement to our youth, so we learn from them and respond to the new and emerging challenges they face. This is how our community and movement will continue to make progress toward a world where all of us can Thrive!

With Pride,
Fernando Z. López
Pronouns: they/them/theirs
Executive Director
San Diego Pride

P.S. Please consider making a donation to help sustain these life-saving LGBT-youth programs.


About Fernando

Fernando Lopez was the Executive Director of San Diego Pride. Lopez’s years of LGBT advocacy, nonprofit management, public education, diversity consulting, media relations, guest lectures, and organizing have made them a consistent presence ensuring the struggles of the LGBT community are ever visible.