On Friday, October 21st the San Mateo County Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) received a special recognition from Outlet, a program of the Adolescent Counseling Services, for the work that ODE is engaged in creating health equity for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQQ+) community in the peninsula area.
“My team and I together with our partners and youth leaders work tirelessly and creatively to bring discussions of inequities, disparities and injustice front and center in our work,” said Dr. Jei Africa, Director of ODE.
Outlet’s Annual Out to Eat Celebration and fundraiser event included a fun and inspiring program with renowned speakers and advocates such as Sid Espinosa, former Mayor of Palo Alto, who after a string of teen suicides in the city became increasingly focused on the city’s youth programs and teen mental health issues and Michelle Honda-Phillips, the mother of a 10-year-old transgender daughter and 8- and 11-year-old cisgender sons, who focuses much of her time advocating for transgender and gender non-conforming youth.
A part of the evening celebration was dedicated to recognizing the achievements of two organizations, the San Mateo County’s Office of Diversity and Equity and Santa Clara County’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs. “The past couple of years have brought great strides setting a strong foundation to help build upon for more awareness, effective and sensitive services, and an overall expectation of equity on all fronts for the San Mateo LGBTQ+ community. It is an honor to work with and be a part of this movement with you!” said Anthony Ross, Outlet Program Director.
Dr. Africa shared about ODE’s work, through the PRIDE initiative, focused on addressing the barriers LGBTQ communities face with seeking behavioral health care services including, sponsoring the first ever PRIDE celebration in San Mateo County in 2013 and the near future launch of the LGBTQ Coordinated Services Center, the first of its kind in California, a one-stop-shop for a variety of resources and supports for LGBTQ families and individuals… “The Center has been a dream for many people, like me, who felt very invisible growing up. The goal of the Center is not only to provide a safe space but to acknowledge that we exist, we are important and we are loved,” said Dr. Jei Africa.
To learn more about the work of ODE and the PRIDE initiative visit, www.smchealth.org/ODE.