Thanks to a misunderstanding of policy by a staff member, The San Diego LGBT Community Center is suffering through a bit of embarrassment today.
San Diego’s first and only out transgender Officer Christine Garcia was not allowed into the San Diego LGBT Community Center on November 17, for the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) gathering.
Officer Garcia was an active member in organizing the event and escorted the march through Hillcrest in her cruiser, but once she reached The Center she was told by a staff member that she could not enter because some members get uncomfortable when uniformed officers are present
San Diego Gay and Lesbian News reached out to The Center for a statement. Chief Executive Officer Dr. Delores Jacobs said that officers Garcia and LGBT liaison Ken Myers are often at the center per their request when someone needs help, or there is a community meeting or event.
The Center issued an apology saying excluding Officer Garcia was a misunderstanding by one of The Center’s staff and Officers Garcia and Myers are welcome in and out of uniform at any time.
“When they are attending events, they are not here to ‘police’ The Center – though they may be in uniform or on-duty,” Dr. Jacobs said in the statement. “They are community members attending events on their lunch or dinner hours. They are welcome to be here in uniform. They are a part of our community.”
As for the imbroglio on Tuesday, Dr. Jacobs says there was a “misunderstanding of our policy of inclusion,” and the policy has been discussed with all staff members and clarified for everyone. She offers this apology:
“We sincerely regret our miscommunication and error; direct apologies for our miscommunications were made to Officer Garcia and Chief Zimmerman,” she writes. “We do not wish to ever make any community member feel unwelcome at The Center – these officers are valued members of our community.”
Although Dr. Jacobs points out in her statement that The Center has a responsibility to respect members who may not trust uniformed officers, these members should also know officers Garcia and Myers are a valued part of the LGBT community.
“This education is particularly important now when so many in our community, especially some of our youth, are so afraid,” said Jacobs.
Chief of Communications for The Center Amber Cyphers responded to SDGLN’s request for a statement by echoing Dr. Jacob’s words.
“After this happened, the entire staff were involved in a series of discussions to clarify The Center’s policy and to discuss ways to support and offer alternatives to community members who continue to be uncomfortable with police officers in uniform,” said Cyphers.