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SFPD and President Obama demonstrate ‘It Gets Better’

Earlier this year, the San Francisco Police Officer’s Pride Alliance did what no other law enforcement agency in the nation had done at that time. They created an inspiring and courageous video to give hope to lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) youth who are struggling for acceptance and understanding. Members of the department who identify as LGBT made the video as part of the nationwide “It Gets Better” campaign designed to help end bullying against LGBT young people in the wake of numerous reported suicides across the country.

In celebration of LGBT Pride Month, I have the privilege of honoring the San Francisco Police Officer’s Pride Alliance at the State Capitol on June 18. Members of the Alliance will be recognized by the Legislative LGBT Caucus for their leadership in creating the video.

The Pride Alliance unveiled the “It Gets Better” project in February with the goal of providing a message of hope, transformation and encouragement to LGBT youth. The moving tribute features openly LGBT members of the San Francisco Police Department, as well as an introductory message from Chief of Police Greg Suhr who, as a young man, was the object of bullying because of his slight build.

One by one, these brave men and women in blue – sergeants, commanders, officers, and dispatchers – tell their unique and motivating stories, sometimes in tears. They did not always fit in with other youth. They sensed their differences at an early age. They were afraid to tell anyone for fear of rejection. They could not easily find positive LGBT role models. They were bombarded with stereotypes and ridicule about gays and lesbians. They thought they could never be police officers. They thought they were alone.

In one united and powerful voice, the members of the Pride Alliance tell LGBT young people that they are beautiful just the way they are, that they have tremendous value, and they do not have to accept intolerance.

The San Francisco Police Officer’s Pride Alliance represents openly LGBT employees of the San Francisco Police Department. With about 200 members, it is the second largest police organization in the city. The nonprofit organization assists its members in hiring, promotions and job assignments, and also engages in a variety of community activities.

The members of the San Francisco Police Officer’s Pride Alliance are true heroes. Learn for yourself by watching their It Gets Better video online at www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RMunYfzlGs.

Last month, President Barack Obama also showed the world that it gets better when he announced that he believes all same-sex couples should have the freedom to marry. The president’s endorsement of justice and equality sends the resounding message to young people across the country that, despite our differences, we all belong. I was proud and elated to hear the president’s announcement and hope his support helps build momentum for the continuing international movement to end bullying and achieve full equality for LGBT people everywhere.

President Obama also made a video for the It Gets Better campaign a couple of years ago. View it online at www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzcAR6yQhF8. You can watch my own It Gets Better video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bnev14XfUjY.

I wish you all a very joyful and safe Pride Month. If you are interested in marching with our contingent at this year’s San Francisco Pride Parade on Sunday, June 24, please contact our San Francisco District Office at 415-557-1300.

Senator Mark Leno represents the Third Senate District of California, which includes portions of San Francisco and Sonoma Counties and all of Marin County. Reach him at www.sen.ca.gov/Leno.
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