San Mateo County Forms LGBTQ Commission

San Mateo County supervisors have voted to establish what may be the first LGBTQ county commission in California.

The commission aims to protect the LGBTQ community and follow the lead of President Barack Obama, who signed an executive order making it illegal to fire or harass federal employees or federal contractors based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

"The LGBTQ community is important and growing," said Dave Pine, a San Mateo County supervisor. "But it's often invisible here in the shadow of San Francisco."

The idea to form the San Mateo County commission was suggested by 20-year-old Jason Galisatus, a member of the Bay Area Youth Summit.

"I'm absolutely thrilled," Galisatus said. "(The) county needed it for a long time."

Galisatus said seniors and students on the Peninsula can isolated.

"In my PE class I had people bullying me and horrible things," Galisatus said. "Traumatizing experience to say the least."

Galisatus thought San Mateo County could follow in the footsteps of San Francisco celebrating the LGBTQ community and pursuing ground-breaking protections.

Officials said the commission will be seated in September and issues are already on the table, including bathrooms for transgender people.

Residents interviewed on Monday supported the effort.

"We're in the Bay Area. We're leaders on these kinds of issues," San Mateo-resident Elise Timtim said. "There is precedent with other human rights commissions. It seems appropriate to have a commission in San Mateo."

County officials said they have received 15 applications to date for nine seats on the volunteer commission.

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