Article President’s Message By League of California Cities President Daniel Parra

Inclusivity keeps California vibrant, but representation can’t solve everything

The diversity of our communities — and those who represent them in public office — is what makes our cities vibrant, enriching places to live. In California, around 10% of our residents identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender — more than any other state. Around 140 local officials identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community. And in 2022, California became the first state to achieve 10% LGBTQ+ representation in the state Legislature.

This inclusiveness has a profound impact on policymaking: diverse input and increased representation can lead to better decision-making and policies for the community as a whole. People want to see themselves in their elected officials. When they feel heard and supported by their local leaders, they are more likely to attend city council meetings and voice their opinions on local issues.

But representation doesn’t solve everything. According to the California Department of Justice, the number of reported hate crimes involving someone’s sexual orientation jumped nearly 30% from 2021 to 2022. Historically, hate crimes are vastly underreported.  

City leaders can play a crucial role in pushing back against hate and extremism and fostering an environment where everyone feels they belong. By working together to model civility, acceptance, and respectful behavior towards all, we can set an important tone and show that all members of our communities, including LGBTQ+ residents, have a place in our cities.  

There are several resources available to help city officials in these efforts. The National League of Cities has developed a policy brief that guides city officials on how to implement non-discriminatory ordinances in their communities and foster an inclusive community for every resident. The Cal Cities LGBTQ+ Caucus has a resource that helps city officials implement good public policy for current or future transgender and gender non-conforming employees.  

Our residents — and the contributions they make to our communities — are foundational to the success of our cities. As we gather this June to celebrate Pride Month, let us take the time to recognize the impact that LGBTQ+ people have had on our society and history — and the ongoing pursuit of equality for the community. As city officials, we have sworn to serve every member of the community, regardless of their race, ethnicity, orientation, or identity. It is our duty and responsibility to stand up to hate and help create a better future for every person who is proud to call our cities home.