SACRAMENTO – Betty Yee, chairwoman of California’s First Equalization District, is speaking out on what she calls “a clearly documentable act of discrimination against members of the LGBT community” in Antelope Valley.
In a letter to Antelope Valley Fair Board President Deana Ward this week, Yee urged the AV Fair Board to “return the rainbow flags to their proper place at the Antelope Valley Fair and remedy this seriously discriminatory conduct.” The letter was copied to several high ranking state officials, including California Governor Jerry Brown, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and members of the Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus. The following is the full text of the letter:
Dear Ms. Ward:
With great concern, I recently learned during a trip to Angeles county of an incident where rainbow flags were removed from displays at the Antelope Valley Fair after one or more individuals complained the flags represented the aspirations of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) individuals.
This action was a clearly documentable act of discrimination against members of the LGBT community, on both the basis of sex and sexual orientation. According to a recent press report, the basis of the action by fairground staff in removing the flags was as follows: “Why don’t we just take them all down right now because we’ve only got a couple calls.”
According to the fair’s own statements, the flags were raised when the fair did not associate them with LGBT people, but then removed them when the flags were associated with LGBT people. Clearly, the association with individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation was the motive behind the removal of the flags.
As a state-related entity under the aegis of State’s Division of Fairs and Expositions, I am very concerned regarding the message sent by removing the flags because of their association with LGBT individuals. Antelope Valley is not far from where 13-year old Seth Walsh, an openly gay youth, committed suicide last year as a result of anti-LGBT bullying. Actions such as those of the fair staff contribute to a climate of intolerance associated with this type of bullying.
California law, under the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Civil Code Section 51) provides that all persons are entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, or services on the basis of sex and sexual orientation. Numerous other state policies and regulations protect LGBT individuals against discrimination in matters under state authority.
I urge you to return the rainbow flags to their proper place at the Antelope Valley Fair and remedy this seriously discriminatory conduct.
Betty T. Yee Member, First District
Members, Antelope Valley Fair Board of Directors
Cecil Swetland Vice President
Matthew C. Jimmink
Dan Jacobs, General Manager, Antelope Valley Fair
Honorable Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Governor, State of California
Karen Ross, Secretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture
Rebecca Desmond, Director, Division of Fairs and Expositions
Honorable Darrell Steinberg, Senate President Pro Tempore
Honorable John A. Perez, Speaker of the Assembly
Members, Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Caucus
Honorable Christine Kehoe, Chair
Honorable Mark Leno
Honorable Tom Ammiano
Honorable Toni Atkins
Honorable Richard Gordon
Honorable Ricardo Lara