Teens 4 Equality in Action: Beyond Our Closets – LGBTQ Youth Speak Out for Family Acceptance

Teens 4 Equality in Action: Beyond Our Closets – LGBTQ Youth Speak Out for Family Acceptance

On Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 DHF Teens 4 Equality with support from DHF Equality Organizer, Dean Welliver, hosted Beyond Our Closets: LGBTQ Youth Speak Out for Family Acceptance. The event commemorated National Coming Out Day. Teens 4 Equality leaders  Emily, Chyna, Nena, Dennis, Andrew, and Julian led a panel discussion in which they shared touching, often emotional, but also joyful and hopeful stories about coming out and family acceptance. Through their experiences of coming out as LGBTQ youth in the 2010s, they related what they want parents and the community to know about LGBTQ youth and offered suggestions for how families and the community can be more supportive.

Dennis asked for people to take him seriously and not see his identity as some sort of joke.

Chyna suggested families make this topic a part of normal family discussion.

Julian made a simple but powerful request, “Just hug your kid. A real hug – not a weak side hug! Tell them you love them, and say it like you really mean it!”

There was one overarching message for family and community, “Be openminded. Be willing to change your opinions and learn something new.”

Following the panel there was time for questions and comments between attendees and panelists. The courage and honesty of the youth inspired attendees to open up and share some of their own stories and explore what family acceptance means to them.

See news coverage of the event at this link.

DHF in Action: Two Spirit Gathering event for indigenous LGBTQ people, Fri. 4/14 – Sun. 4/16/17

DHF in Action: Two Spirit Gathering event for indigenous LGBTQ people, Fri. 4/14 – Sun. 4/16/17

DHF Equality Program Organizer, Moises Duran, and several youth from the Teens 4 LGBTQ Equality Group spent part of their Spring Break attending a Two Spirit Gathering event for indigenous LGBTQ people. The event was held at a private sanctuary and ceremonial gathering place on the Tule River. The 12 acres of pristine undeveloped land in the foothills of the southern Sierra Nevada mountains are situated within the Sequoia National Forest.

Activities were planned to build respect for the LGBTQ community and bring humanity together. They included a Mexica Temazcall lodge, a danza circle, other native dancing, land and water restoration and stewardship, and camping for a group of about 100 people.

The group created a sacred sacred community altar to commemorate and honor indigenous/Native LGBTQ individuals who have been murdered and might otherwise be forgotten.


2016 WMNL: Equality

2016 WMNL: Equality


In January 2016, the Dolores Huerta Foundation launched its Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Equality Program. Equality Organizers, Moises Duran and Dean Welliver, are working to organize students, families, and community members to take a more pronounced and active role in creating safe and welcoming school climates, mobilizing the LGBT vote, addressing health inequalities like STD transmission rates and lack of health care services for transgender residents, and providing safe spaces for LGBT and straight allied youth to grow as leaders! DHF launched the program to address the inequalities that LGBT residents of Kern County are experiencing in the areas of health, education, youth, and civic engagement.

They started the group Teens 4 LGBT Equality. It is currently the only active community based youth group in Kern County providing engaging and fun extracurricular activities focused on building community and learning about LGBT identities and rights.

While California does have legal protections safeguarding LGBT student’s rights, Kern High School District (KHSD) has failed to make all students feel safe. KHSD Board of Trustees member Chad Vegas stated publicly that LGBT students are “sexually perverse” and “mentally ill” at a school board meeting addressing a non-discrimination policy intended to protect transgender students. He invited parishioners from his church who made disparaging comments towards the LGBT community, including the malicious misgendering of a trans-woman giving public comment. In the face of these hostile and traumatic attacks, the LGBT community showed great strength and poise and was ultimately able to celebrate the policy approval.

LGBT Youth Prom

Youth in Kern County experience a lack of LGBT-inclusive social spaces. On June 17th, the DHF Teens 4 LGBTQ Equality group planned “Let Your Queer Glow”- the first teen-led Kern County LGBT youth dance. They transformed the Bakersfield Gay and Lesbian Center into a glowing neon space galaxy. Over fifty of their peers danced and enjoyed themselves without having to worry about potential backlash from other students and staff.

Fifteen year-old West High Student Toni attended the dance and said, “My favorite part was that I could talk with people that know what I’m going through. You get to be yourself and celebrate it. It’s really fun.”

“Joining Teens 4 LGBTQ Equality has had a positive impact on my life, because I would have never done stuff like this before! It has motivated me to go outside of my comfort zone and try new things! My favorite part of being in the program is that I get to be involved in the community and meet other youth who are facing the same challenges we face and who understand our problems!” –Teen Leader, Paola Hinojosa.

LGBT Youth Advocacy Impacts KHSD Policy

Teens 4 LGBT Equality, Dolores Huerta Foundation and allied organizations working together to provide a safer school climate, education, and visibility for LGBTQ Youth and allies were given extensive training on the school budget process and the Local Control Accountability Plan, how to advocate for their educational needs, and in core competencies such as public speaking, outreach, and facilitating meetings. The curriculum also explored the school to prison pipeline, sexual education/health, power and oppression, bullying and victimization, student’s rights and a history of the LGBTQ movement.  Youth discussed their personal experiences and identified gaps in services and policies in the Kern High School District (KHSD). Through the LCAP process, youth were provided an opportunity to directly advocate for their needs and practice public speaking. Fifteen students attended several LCAP public input sessions and provided recommendations to the KHSD board.

The students advocated for cultural competency trainings for staff, implementation of the School Success and Opportunity Act (allowing all students to participate in activities regardless of their birth gender), anti-bullying policies and procedures, implementing the California Healthy Kids Survey to understand health needs, gender neutral restrooms and greater LGBTQ resources at parent centers and counselors’ offices. In the final LCAP, approved by the KHSD board in June, many of the recommendations were included such as hiring additional teachers to reduce class sizes, hiring more counselors to increase the accessibility of academic guidance, more advanced placement classes offered and staff cultural competency trainings.

Paul Schrade – Executive Board Member


Paul Schrade

Paul Schrade is a former director of the United Auto Workers in California. His involvement with the union dates back to the time of founder Walter Reuther. Schrade was also a close associate of Sen. Robert Kennedy and an aide in Kennedy’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in ’68. He was one of the five people wounded on the night RFK was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on April 5, 1968.

Since that historic day, Paul’s mission has been to carry on Kennedy’s work. Understanding Kennedy’s passion about education, he proposed that a school be built at the site of the former Ambassador Hotel. The school would serve to relieve overcrowding and eliminate forced bussing and offer students of the historically underserved communities of Los Angeles’ Pico-Union and Koreatown a state-of-the-art educational facility.

Paul Schrade was Coordinator of the RFK-12 Community Task Force. The task force was successful in getting a 4000 seat, Kinder through 12th grade school to open in the same location where 43 years ago he lost his good friend and his life would be changed forever. He continues to be an activist for auto worker and social justice issues.

Martin Sheen – Executive Board Member


Martin Sheen is one of the busiest, most conscientious actors in Hollywood, putting together a Herculean body of work. He became established playing youths run amok, and though the resume boasts its share of villains, he has grown over the years into a patriarchal figure, whose rectitude and social responsibility is in keeping with his very liberal Catholic activism.

Born Ramon Estevez to immigrant parents, Sheen left his Dayton, Ohio home for the bright lights of NYC, apprenticing at Judith Malina and Julian Beck’s Living Theatre. He grabbed attention (1964) in Frank Gilroy’s “The Subject Was Roses” with a Tony-nominated turn as a returning war veteran opposite Jack Albertson, later reprising his roll in the 1968 film version. Sheen’s feature debut came as a delinquent terrorizing the occupants of a subway car in “The Incident” (1967), but his real breakthrough came as the alienated, amoral yet charismatic killer on the run with Sissy Spacek in Terrence Malick’s “Badlands” (1973).

In the 70’s Sheen embarked on a series of critically acclaimed projects for the small screen, earning an Emmy nomination for his sensitive portrayal of the deserter in “The Execution of Private Slovik”. Also, that same year was the powerful “The Missiles of October” which saw him slip into the skin of Attorney General Robert Kennedy, his first of many fictional forays into political life. Sheen’s turn as the military assassin sent to terminate the command of crazed Marlon Brando in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” remains one of his signature roles.

Despite the time devoted to social justice, his amazing output of film and TV roles has never slowed. He donated his salary for his work on “Ghandi” (1982) to various charities and he portrayed a union official father at odds with the insider-trading world of his financier son (Charlie) in Oliver Stone’s absorbing “Wall Street” (1987). He executive produced and starred in two features, playing Bernard Hughes’ son in “DA” and a trial judge in Leo Penn’s “Judgment in Berlin”, and he also executive produced and starred in the TNT movie “Nightbreaker” (1989), in which son Emilio essayed his character at an earlier stage.

One of the nost prominent feature roles of the 90’s came as an advisor of “The American President” (1995), which introduced him to screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. So it perhaps came as no surprise when he surfaced as US President Josiah Bartlet on the critically acclaimed “The West Wing”. Finishing up seven years on “The West Wing”, Sheen released three new movies in 2006 including Martin Scorsese’s “the Departed”, Gregory Nava’s “Bordertown”, and “Bobby” which was written and directed by Martin’s son Emilio.

Martin has been married to his wife Janet for over forty years and their four children, Emilio, Renee, and Ramon Esteve and Charlie Sheen, are all involved in the entertainment business.

Martin Sheen actively promotes the principles of Catholic social thought in word and in action. His passion for activism and its necessary place in today’s political, humanitarian, and social arenas has inspired generations. For over four decades, he has been an ardent supporter of causes that advocate peace and encourage justice throughout the world.

Cruz Phillips – Executive Board Member



Cruz Phillips spent 15 years as a community organizer in the farm worker movement.  She was the National Director of the successful Campbell Soup Boycott for the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, Development Director for the National Farm Worker Ministry, and Community Organizing Director for the United Farm Workers of America.

Cruz has been a field coordinator for several political campaigns including Hilda Solis for Congress and Alan Cranston for Senate.  She has been an organizer trainer for both unions and community organizations including the United Domestic Workers, SEIU, Neighbor to Neighbor, and PUEBLO of Santa Barbara.  She has worked with Dolores since the formation of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.  Cruz currently is working as a horse trainer and an organizing consultant for community organizations and campaigns.  She is on the boards of four non-profits, PUEBLO in Santa Barbara, the Dolores Huerta Foundation and two riding organizations.

Dr. Fidel Huerta – Executive Board Member


Dr. Huerta received his Medical Doctorate Degree from University of California, Los Angeles. He went on to complete his Internship and Residency Program in Family Practice at Kern Medical Center.  Dr. Huerta joined the Kern Medical Center faculty as a Staff Physician at Kern Medical Center in 1998 as an Associate in the Department of Family Practice.

Dr. Huerta completed a Fellowship in Family Practice at Kern Medical Center in 1990 where he went on to work as a staff physician at Sequoia Community Health Center before working in private practice.

Dr. Huerta is the Medical Director at Kern Regional Center where he serves citizens with developmental disabilities and their families in Bakersfield, California.  Dr. Huerta is a member of the faculty of the Kern Medical Center Family Practice Residency Program. He is a member of the American Academy of Family Practice and the Los Angeles Shrine.  Dr. Huerta sits on the boards of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (CHADD) and Valley Achievement Center.

Certificates and Affiliations: California Rural Health Federation, American Academy of Family Practice, United Farm Workers of America, California Latino Medical

Jamila Guerrero-Cantor, EdD, NCC – Executive Board Member

Jamila Guerrero-Cantor, EdD, NCC was raised in Los Angeles, CA where she has worked as a School Counselor for diverse Deaf students and other students in K-12, community college, and university settings. She became a young activist at Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden’s political/performing arts camp Laurel Springs in Santa Barbara, CA.

Through her high school years she learned about organizing with the Los Angeles Student Coalition – protesting apartheid on the steps of the South African Consulate in Beverly Hills. Later, her passion for music and social justice merged together to form a band, “Wozani” (a call for the people to come in Zulu), that toured throughout the U.S. She has with a B.A. in Community Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she did her fieldwork within the organizing efforts of the United Farm Workers – and then joined on as an Organizer and National Coordinator.

She is a National Certified Counselor (NCC) and graduated with a M.A. in School Counseling and Guidance from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. -the first and only university for the Deaf in the world. She holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice from California State University East Bay where she researched intersectional oppressions experienced by Latinx Deaf students who are living as undocumented in California.

She has done counseling work with Deaf youth in the coastal region of Oaxaca, Mexico enabling her to learn about the complexities of their realities as well as Mexican Sign Language. She has served on projects as a member of the California Mental Health Services Act Multi-Cultural Coalition and the National Counselors for the Deaf Association. As a Board Member for the Dolores Huerta Foundation she is committed to supporting the work of social justice – the legacy of Dolores Huerta.

John X. Fernandez, Jr. – Executive Board Member

John x fernandez

Prior to establishing Hawley Morton Productions, Inc. in 1995 John X. Fernandez, Jr. provided more than ten years of technical and management expertise to The Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall.

John Fernandez has had the privilege of working with several of America’s leading arts institutions including five years at The Metropolitan Opera as the Assistant Technical Director and seven years at Carnegie Hall as Director of Operations. In this position he oversaw license agreements, rental fees, capital needs, collective bargaining, box office services, food and beverage, stage labor, ushers house managers and other staff. He implemented services to facilitate the successful presentations of all front-of-house staff, ensuring a well produced event. Additionally, he was co-producer for the Carnegie Hall Centennial, producing a variety of television programs and over 100 live performances.

During his tenure at the Metropolitan Opera, John Fernandez assisted in the management of twenty-one different Unions, while managing the success of twenty-five operas in repertory for a thirty-five week season. He worked in managing all areas of opera production including design of scenery, props, costumes, lighting, wigs and make-up. He managed the stage crew and over two hundred employees involved in the successful mounting of an opera production.

Barbara Carrasco – Executive Board Member

barbara carrasco photo

Barbara Carrasco is an artist and muralist.  Her works have been exhibited throughout the U.S., Europe, and Latin America and her work has been featured in numerous publications: Ms. Magazine (2008), Los Angeles Times, New York Times; USA Today; Artforum; Boston Globe; new England Journal; High performance, and Flash Art.

She received her M.F.A. in art from California Institute of the Arts (1991) and her B.F.A. in Art from UCLA (1978).  Carrasco created numerous mural banners for the United Farm Workers Union (1976-1991).  She was invited to the former USSR to paint murals in Leningrad and Armenia (1985 and 1987).  Carrasco created computer animation PESTICIDES! That was presented on the Spectacolor Light-board at Times Square in New York (1989).

Her original mural sketches and drawings are included in the Permanent Collection of Works on paper at the Library of Congress, Washington D.C. (1989).  Documentation of her mural work is archived in the California Murals Collection at the Smithsonian Institution (1983).  A permanent collection of her papers has been established and archived at Stanford University Special Collections Mexican American Manuscript Collections (1996).  Her oral history is archived at the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution (1999)

Carrasco had her Mid Career Survey Exhibition, A Brush With Life, in 2008 at the Vincent Price Gallery at East Los Angeles College.  Carrasco was appointed the 2002-2003 UC Regents professor for the Spring Quarter at UC Riverside.  She has also taught at UC Santa Barbara and Loyola Marymount University.  In 2008, The Girl Scouts of America created a merit patch based on Carrasco’s image of Dolores Huerta.

Angela Cabrera, R.N. – Executive Board Member

angela and mom

Angela began her nursing career in 1995 at Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield, California. The experience she gained at this county facility was both exciting and troubling. Recognizing a lack of bilingual nurses, Angela saw more clearly than ever the need for the work and education of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

Her interest in cardiac care led her to the Bakersfield Heart Hospital where she spent ten years working in their ER and cardiac catherization lab.

Her nursing career has led her to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation where nursing care and reform are needed more than ever. The disproportionate amount of young men of color in the prison system demands adequate care.

Angela has two wonderful daughters, Karena and Christina, both of whom are socially conscious and kind. Her husband of twenty-five years, David, has also taken justice, professionalism and kindness to his long career with the California Highway Patrol. Together, Angela’s family will continue the legacy her mother started.

Alicia A. Arong – Executive Board Treasurer


Alicia was born and raised in Stockton, California. She attended local schools and was involved in the arts and culture of her community at an early age. Ms. Arong continues to be involved at many levels in local and state activities.

Ms. Arong is a retired executive with Macy’s West. Ms Arong was extremely involved in the creation and programs of the Community Service Organization Stockton Chapter and the United Farm Workers Support Committee. She has been involved with the Mexican Heritage Center, Inc. at its inception in 1997. She served on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee of the Northern California Women’s Correctional Facility until its closure in 2002.  She is Past President of the San Joaquin County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce sits on the Boards of KVIE Public Television, Stockton Arts Commission, San Joaquin County American Heart Association and Treasurer elect of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

Richard E. Chavez – Founding Executive Board Member (November 12, 1929 – July 27, 2011)

Richard Chavez

Richard Estrada Chavez  was an American labor leader, organizer and activist. Chavez was the younger brother of labor leader César Chávez, who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, now known as the United Farm Workers (UFW). Richard Chavez is credited with building the United Farm Workers into a major California agricultural and political organization.

Chavez was born to a migrant family on November 12, 1929, near Yuma, Arizona, on a family farm.[1][2] He worked as a child migrant worker during the Great Depression. He transitioned from farm work to carpentry and moved to San Jose, California.[1] In the early 1960s, Chavez would leave his job as a carpenter in order to assist Cesar Chavez in his effort to organize California farm workers.[1] Richard Chavez was a co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association, which would later become known as the United Farm Workers (UFW).

Richard Chavez spearheaded the construction of the United Farm Workers’ union hall, which became its headquarters, in Delano, California. In 1962, Richard Chavez designed the now iconic logo of the United Farm Workers, which features a black Aztec eagle.(Cesar Chavez chose the red and black colors of the union. Decades later, U.S. President Barack Obama called the eagle “a symbol of hope that has helped carry the struggle for the rights of farm workers forward for almost five decades.”

In 1966, Chavez became the founding director of the National Farm Workers Service Center, which opened up social services to farm workers. Chavez also put his own home up for collateral to establish the UFW’s credit union. Chavez helped organize the Delano grape strike and boycott, which spanned five years during the late 1960s. He later helped organize other strikes in Detroit and New York.

Richard Chavez served as the third Vice President of the United Farm Workers from 1972 until his retirement in 1984. Chavez retired from the United Farm Workers union in 1983, but continued to serve on the board of directors of the Cesar Chavez Foundation and the Dolores Huerta Foundation. Chavez worked as a Los Angeles-based custom home builder during the 1990s after he received a California contractor’s license.

Chavez had a long-term romantic relationship with labor leader, Dolores Huerta. Chavez and Huerta never married, but had four children during their relationship.

Richard Chavez died from complications of surgery at a hospital in Bakersfield, California, on July 27, 2011, at the age of 81. He was survived by ten children, six from his first marriage and four from his relationship with Dolores Huerta. Chavez was also survived by two sisters, Rita Chavez Medina and Vicki Chavez Lastra, and one surviving brother, Librado Chavez.

President Barack Obama issued a statement calling Chavez a “symbol of hope.”Chavez had visited Obama at the White House in 2010 to mark Cesar Chavez Day.

Jack Brigham – Founding Executive Board Member (August 24, 1946 – July 7, 2016)


During Jack Brigham’s 2o years as a teacher in the Bakersfield City School District, he coached many outstanding Kern athletes, including Dean Jones, who became top Junior College basketball player in California during his sophomore year at Bakersfield College.

He also became a leader in the Kern Council for Civic Unity, a leader and state vice president of the Bakersfield Federation of Teachers, AFT AFL-CLO, and the President of the Kern, Inyo, and Mono counties’ Central Labor Council for two terms.  In addition he edited the Kern, Inyo, and Mono counties’ Central Labor Council publications.

At the age of 42 he became a History and Political Science professor at Bakersfield College under the mentorship of Dr. David Rosales. The students voted him their outstanding professor at the end of his first year, and as the Sam McCall Award Winner, he had the honor of being a BC graduation speaker to the class of 1991.

While at BC, his most unique award was being selected a member of a group of 50 who represented outstanding leaders during Bakersfield’s first 100 years. He was also awarded the Beautiful Bakersfield Individual Humanitarian Award. He was honored at the Renegades’ 100 year celebration as being one of the top influences in BC history, and in addition was presented with the George White Award and served as the Grand Marshall of both the East Bakersfield High School and Bakersfield College homecomings.

In 2000 he and his close friends, Milt Younger and Harvey Hall, founded the BC Center for Kern Political Education as a nonpartisan BC foundation.
The center hosted speakers, as well as provided annual We The People conferences for Kern youth and their coaches, annual Sacramento trips and annual youth-community leader honoree dinners.  It also funded internships for many Kern youth.

Following his retirement, he co-founded PEAK (Progressive Education and Action in Kern) with Kim Schaefer and Tom Webster.  PEAK interns continue to create a weekly flyer and Issues Quarterly Magazine. In addition Jack has been part of the Dolores Huerta Foundation Board of Directors and was honored as Chamber of Commerce Humanitarian-of-the-year.

On December 19, 2015, his former BC student and honorary family member, Abdallah Ben-Hamallah, gave a health center to the community of Malika, Senegal, that will serve approximately 100,000 people each year.  It is named Brigham and Younger Health Center in honor of Jack Brigham and his mentor of more than four decades, Milt Younger.

Jack leaves behind countless friends, admirers, colleagues and former students whom he has helped over his career. Those who knew him feel privileged and grateful to have known a man dedicated totally to the betterment of his community and human kind. His passion was fostering learning and personal growth in his students, assuming the role of father, mentor, friend, support figure for countless young people.

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