Youth Commissioner Mia Tu Much speaking at BOS hearing on 12N in June.

Youth Commissioner Mia Tu Much speaking at BOS hearing on 12N in June.

In a photo published in San Francisco Bay Guardian article earlier this year, San Francisco Youth Commissioner Mia Tu Much, 22, held a sign stating “I need 12N because youth shouldn’t have to educate adults.” The “12N” refers to Chapter 12N of the San Francisco Administrative Code that requires city departments to provide sensitivity training to employees working with LGBTQQ young people like Commissioner Tu Much. Now thirteen years since12N became law, only one city department, according to the San Francisco Youth Commission, has been in full compliance.

“The Department of Public Health (DPH) is the only one specifically looking at 12n charter,” said Adele Carpenter of the San Francisco Youth Commission, which has pushed the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to figure out how to substantially implement 12N this year. “We heard from other departments, there are departments that offer staff training, like the Juvenile Probation Department,” added Carpenter, but “we have not done follow-up if it complies with 12n code.”

This year, the San Francisco Youth Commission has prioritized implementing 12N, including staff training, inclusive intake forms that can track outcomes of LGBTQQ youth, and addressing other administrative issues like safe and appropriate bathroom and shelter facilities, and expanding capacity to make appropriate referrals based on specific issues faced by LGBTQ youth.

Youth Commissioners Mia Tu Much and Paul Monge-Rodriguez sit on the Youth Commission’s Housing/LGBTQQ/TAY Committee, which has taken the lead on the 12N issue. This March, Commissioner Monge-Rodriguez first brought the issue to the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic club. As a response, Supervisor John Avalos held a hearing on the issue at the Neighborhood Services and Safety Committee early June.

In her public testimony at the June hearing, Commissioner Tu Much explained that the Youth Commission sees the implementation of 12N as a way for City Services to address the outstanding needs of the City’s LGBTQQ youth and young adults and related this unmet need to personal experience.

“As a queer, trans-gen who migrated to this City, I am invested in 12N because I recognize that I had to receive City services to have my basic needs met,” Commissioner Tu Much told the committee. “And as a person who has experienced homelessness, violence, unemployment, and employment discrimination, I see the crucial need for having supportive service providers there, filling the void when family members and community members don’t.”

Commissioner Tu Much also highlighted the barriers to full 12N implementation the Youth Commission has identified, including needed clarification as to which specific staff are in need of training, clarity on who’s responsible for overseeing compliance, and the need for a central mechanism to track gender and sexual orientation info of young people receiving city services. “We need leadership from the City that these needs are being met,” said Commission Tu Much at the June hearing.

One challenge for city departments to implement 12N is that it does not have clear plan for implementation and it is an un-funded mandate. The one city department that has complied with 12N, the 8,000-employee Department of Public Health, secured a grant from the state Mental Health Services Act to implement the charter. DPH then used the money to create a sensitivity training video for its employees with youth media program BAYCAT.

“We had to develop something where could reach a lot of people, not a lot of money,” Michael Baxter of DPH said at the same hearing Commissioner Tu Much presented at, “and really wanted to impact behavior, attitudes, and knowledge. A video could speak from a youth voice and speak directly to the audience we are trying to educate.”

As part of this DPH effort, Mia Tu Much organized youth focus groups on why implementation of 12N was so important, gave input on the content, and lined up youth to be in the sensitivity training video for DPH staff.

“Youth Commission rocks these days, they are really pushing issues,” Mr. Baxter said at the June 12N public hearing. “I agree,” chimed Supervisor Avalos in response.

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NOTE: Mia Tu Much also launched social media campaign on Tumblr queeryouthmatter.tumblr.com, featuring LGBTQQ youth holding signs on why city departments need to implement 12N.