Annapolis Candidate Questionnaire

Kathleen (Kati) George, Ward 8 (D)

1. Please let us know if you have ever volunteered with or supported any LGBTQ+ organizations, such as Annapolis Pride, PFLAG, or the Human Rights Campaign. Feel free to include events in which you participated. Please include all groups you feel are pertinent including LGBTQ+ Equity actions or advocacy that you have taken in other non-LGBTQ+ organizations or Boards. If no previous volunteer or advocacy experience with or for LGBTQ+ Community, please explain why not and how you now understand the importance of such advocacy.

I participated in my first Pride event in June, 2021 at St Luke’s Church Labyrinth. I also wrote a personal letter to the Chair of AACPS in support of the proposed inclusion policy which did pass. Although I have had family members, co workers, friends and clients in the LGBTQ+ community, my support was previously less public. I now see the value in public advocacy, because bias and outright discrimination can often be subtle and disguised in other actions.

2. The Trevor Project National Survey on LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health 2021 surveyed nearly 35,000 LGBTQ youth ages 13-24 across the United States. Among the key findings of the survey:

+ 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.
+ 12% of white youth attempted suicide compared to 31% of Native/Indigenous youth, 21% of Black youth, 21% of multiracial youth, 18% of Latinx youth, and 12% of Asian/Pacific Islander youth.

Please discuss your feelings about the data above and how you would help support LGBTQ+ youth and specifically Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), and transgender nonbinary youth. Have you advocated for or endorsed legislation and actions on the state or local level to keep LGBTQ+ youth safe? Explain if you have not and what you intend to do in the future to improve the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth in Annapolis.

The number of youth at risk of suicide currently is alarming and growing. According to the data shown above, this phenomenon is approximately 2 to 3 times more likely to affect Minority youth. To care for children or youth, it does take a village, and in Annapolis it means a partnership among government, schools, faith leaders, non-profits and caring individuals to acknowledge the extent of the problem and then provide identification and intervention for at-risk youth. Understanding the link with substance abuse and overdose must not be ignored. Youth need to feel safe and that is the responsibility of the adults around them.

At the request of Jeremy Browning, I submitted a letter of support for the Safe and Inclusive Environments for LGBTQ+ Students policy to the Board Chair of AACPS. Because of extensive advocacy by many different individuals and organizations, I am pleased to say that that Bill was passed. I will be interested to see how the implementation is monitored, going forward so that is not just words on paper.

3. On June 16, 2021 the Anne Arundel County Public School Board passed the Safe and Inclusive Environments for LGBTQ+ Students, a comprehensive policy that prohibits discrimination and harassment based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The policy states support for the right of any student to be addressed by a name and pronoun that correspond to the student’s gender identity. Additionally, the policy supports the right of any student to use school facilities that correspond with gender identity in which the student identifies.

Please discuss the importance of the adoption of policies in schools that respect student gender identification, including consideration of reasonable and respectful accommodation in regard to facilities. Please provide your feelings regarding “Bathroom Bills” that have been proposed around the country.

Children begin to recognize their different-ness in elementary school, no matter what those differences may be. Schools must adopt policies in support of ALL children, and concurrently provide all teachers and staff with training to honor all differences whether racial, gender identification, learning style, disability, family composition, or country of origin. Children, like adults, require reasonable accommodation as to facilities.

I think “Bathroom Bills” are a poorly disguised attempt to merely stir up fear of “the other” and directly discriminate against anyone in th LGBTQ+ community.

4. How have you advocated for the LGBTQ+ community and supported inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community in the past (i.e. have you spoken out publicly for policies at your place of business, testified before government bodies, adopted written policies for your employees, marched for equal rights, etc.)? Please be specific.

I have always advocated for inclusion of LGBTQ+ community members in the workplace. I have been privileged to work in retail, design and government with lots of members of the community. The only question I ever asked was, is this person the most qualified? And, they always were! These were personal and private actions. It has not previously been my personal style to speak, march or testify as an advocate in any cause.

5. It has been well documented that LGBTQ+ people face health disparities linked to societal stigma, discrimination, and lack of access to quality health care. How have you advocated to reduce LGBTQ+ health disparities? Explain if you have not and what you intend to do in the future to improve the health of LGBTQ+ people in Annapolis.

The City, and County, must ensure that all their facilities and providers offering health care services support inclusion policies and train their staff accordingly. Private medical providers who serve the LGBTQ+ community should be encouraged and recognized.

6. What is your position on police reform and do you support police training and education on issues of concern to the LGBTQ+ community?

I think the current move to a Community Policing model as being adopted and implemented by Chief Jackson is our best option to ensure we meet ALL residents where they are. Our officers need training in best practices for helping LGBTQ+ residents and others with unique challenges and needs. Social services must be integrated into that policing model.