The San Francisco Board of Education on Tuesday approved the creation of a Queer Transgender Parent Advisory Council but will leave it to staff to determine how to implement it amid the district’s budget crisis.
The resolution, which backers say is the first of its kind in the nation, was brought forward by Our Family Coalition, an LGBTQ+ advisory group, and was authored by Commissioner Alison Collins. The new group would make recommendations to improve the experiences of LGBTQ+ students and parents around issues like bathroom signage, school forms and curriculum. Its approval brings the number of affinity parent groups in the district to 15.
Commissioner Faauuga Moliga—who, along with Collins, is facing recall next Tuesday—was the lone “no” vote.
“This has been a long time coming,” Collins said at the meeting. The creation of the council had been in the works before the pandemic put the brakes on it. “I know how powerful it is to be a member of an affinity group. Without this official group, families that have children who are nonbinary, transgender and queer are going to be deprioritized and considered an added expense when it comes to making our schools free of discrimination.”
Commissioners agreed that the Queer Transgender Parent Advisory Council (QTPAC) was important, but wrestled with how to make it a reality in the face of a $125 million structural deficit that threatens a loss of local control to state officials. The board approved $90 million in cuts in December but increased funding under the latest budget proposal is estimated to bring $40 million back to SF Unified School District.
Still, cuts must be made, and QTPAC would cost an estimated $480,000 in the first year and about $220,000 annually after that. The estimate includes a full-time staff liaison, as well as costs to come into compliance with state laws around gender options on forms and communications as well as signage for over 1,000 single-stall restrooms in the district.
At the budget committee meeting last Wednesday, Collins and Commissioner Faauuga Moliga clashed over the resolution. With two voting members at the meeting, the item failed to come to a vote after Moliga cited concerns about the larger budget.
“If we’re creating more positions in [the central office] and we say we want to cut, I think that’s confusing,” Moliga said at Tuesday’s meeting. “I’m unsettled around this finance piece.”
Under staff recommendation, the resolution was amended to specify that associated costs be included in the budget-balancing plan by either adding the money to pay for it or making additional cuts. Staff will come back to the board to determine which aspects of the resolution can move forward with existing resources, like changing signs using funds for facilities.
SFUSD currently has 14 advisory councils, including those for African American parents (which Collins is a part of), English learners, special education families and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. Those four groups have staff in the district to support council work, according to the district’s fiscal analysis of the resolution.
QTPAC had been under development until Covid stalled its introduction. Some parents of such councils attested to the difference that having the focus on them makes and called for support of the creation of a QTPAC during public comment on Tuesday. Others last week were upset with Collins’ involvement after the board turned away a gay dad who had sought to join the Parent Advisory Council in 2021.
“In a city that prides itself on being queer and trans friendly, our district needs to show up for queer and trans families,” said M Villaluna, a nonbinary Parent Advisory Council member. “Creating a QTPAC will ensure queer and trans parents will have a council where our voice is heard.”
Ida Mojadad can be reached at [email protected]