Nicholas Snow (he/his) is honored to welcome Lex Ortega (they/them), Director, Community Programs, The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert, to this episode of The Snowstorm to discuss important policy work of The Center and its community partners and allies. They will also be previewing an vital upcoming event, the news of which was announced this week. (Be sure to visit for more info about their important work).

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Thursday, February 8, 2024, the Riverside County LGBTQ+ Student Safety Coalition will host a virtual candidate forum for the Riverside CountyBoard of Education. All candidates currently running for a trustee seat in the Riverside County Board of Education have been invited to participate in this forum. The following candidates have confirmed their participation: Bruce Dennis, Maliha Williamson, and Jennifer Mejares Pham.

2024 marks an important election year. To ensure you have the information you need to cast an informed vote, the LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert (The Center) together with Coalition partners Transgender Resource Advocacy Network Service (T.R.A.N.S.), Alianza, Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance, IE Prism Collective, Our Schools East Valley, Equality California, SBX Youth & Family Services, Riverside Pride, Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, IE United and Expanding Identities Development – invites all Riverside County residents who are interested in learning more about the candidates’ positions to this virtual forum.

The coalition – which seeks to protect LGBTQ+ students across Riverside County and believes schools should be safe spaces for learning regardless of students’ sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression – will be asking each candidate questions related to their priorities on student safety and their commitment to protecting LGBTQ+ students.

In 2023, over 500 anti-trans bills were introduced and considered across the United States. This unprecedented, rapid increase in attacks on LGBTQ+ rights across the nation, and in our backyards, has had devastating consequences for trans people, and trans youth in particular. A national survey on LGBTQ youth mental health found that nearly 1 in 5 transgender and nonbinary youth attempted suicide and 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. The survey also found that fewer than 1 in 3 transgender and nonbinary youth found their home to be gender-affirming.

Given these alarming statistics, and an increase of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the country and even in Riverside County school districts – in October 2023, the Riverside County LGBTQ+ Student Safety Coalition sent a letter to the RiversideCounty Board of Education showing its commitment to LGBTQ+ students. The coalition strongly opposes the discrimination and misinformation used to propose, implement, and enforce harmful and dangerous anti-LGBTQ+ policies in schools, such as those recently enacted by the Murrieta Valley Unified School District and Temecula Valley Unified School District, which require forced outing of students who may not be in safe environments, and reject LGBTQ+ inclusive education and information.

The forum will be moderated by Lex Ortega (they/them) from The Center and Erika Ruiz (they/them) from The IE Prism Collective, two community activists with a deep understanding of LGBTQ+ issues. Attendees will have the opportunity to submit questions to the candidates through the webinar registration link.

You can register for the event at



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