Dear United States: #Jessicastux discrimination shows SF inequality

Jessica's tuxedo sporting yearbook photo
Image courtesy of @jessicastux

Dear United States,

Yes,  you've found San Francisco out. You've got us. Our city is not the bastion of equality we claim it to be. 

It's something most San Franciscans know, but now you, the country, are getting a peek at how discriminatory our local institutions can actually be.

Just last week, the news of Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep's discrimination against young Jessica Urbina went viral. Urbina just wanted to wear a tuxedo in her yearbook photo, and the Catholic school, Sacred Heart, said it would not print her photo in a yearbook because she wasn't in a dress.

The resulting social media firestorm blew up in national media, propelled by the hashtag #jessicastux. Today Sacred Heart issued an apology, offering to work on its policies moving forward.

"On Friday, May 16, the school communicated that it will change its policy regarding senior portraits. We agree with our students who showed solidarity with their classmate that the current policy regarding senior portraits is not adequate to meet the needs of our families or our mission. We will involve our students, families, and Board in crafting the updated policy.


Many people suggest that the past few days have been deeply revealing about our school community. We agree. We are an imperfect community that can and does fail. We are a community that is open to self-reflection, and to the constructive criticism and leadership of its students, as well as to the criticism from members of our broader community. We are a community that strives to grow, improve and do what is right. We are a community that sees, in all situations, an opportunity to learn."

But before we let Sacred Heart be crucified in the court of public opinion, let's remember an old religious maxim: let ye who is without sin cast the first stone. And when it comes to inequality, San Francisco has many sinners.

Yes, dear country, you spent the last week utterly aghast that San Francisco, the champion of marriage equality, could discriminate against an LGBT teen.

You really don't know the half of it. 

Take our public schools. Even as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Brown vs. the Board of Education, an investigative report by the San Francisco Public Press revealed massive inequality in San Francisco public elementary schools. Though the SFUSD suffered funding cuts totalling $113 million in the 2009-10 school year (after numerous annual state cuts), some public schools managed to stave off layoffs and provide excellent facilities for their children. The catch? Only the elementary schools attended by rich families survived, bouyed by nearly $3 million in PTSA fundraising in 11 elementary schools.

But 35 of SFUSD's elementary schools raised no money at all. These schools are not surprisingly attended mostly by the city's poorest families, and their schools were met with brutal cuts.

The SFUSD is only now allowing students to wear hats (including some religious headgear), and is only now considering raising its minimum wage to San Francisco's minimum of $10.24 an hour (as a state entity, it only has to pay $8 an hour).

And lest we pick on the schools too much, the explosive tech industry has had its impacts on San Francisco equality too. As taxi drivers flock to rideshare companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, there are fewer drivers to drive wheelchair-accessible taxis. Those rideshare companies don't yet have a plan to offer service to our city's many persons with disabilities. Even our beloved regional transit system, BART, has new proposed "trains of the future" offering less space for electric wheelchairs to move around as well.  

San Francisco has also seen massive numbers of folks displaced by the tech boom, symbolized (and even exacerberated) by our city's most hated/loved/over-discussed behemoths, the Google buses.  

We've even got the second highest inequality in the United States, fast headed for number one. Go us.

And though Bill O'Reilly at Fox News loves to make funny videos about San Francisco's homeless while he talks up our love of hippies, he's got it all wrong (unfortunately). The city issues numerous citations against homeless youth for the act of sitting down in the Haight Ashbury district (the birthplace of the Summer of Love), and has struggled with policies to help the homeless for over 10 years running. 

Also, did we mention one in four San Franciscans are food insecure? That means about 200,000 San Franciscans don't have enough money to eat healthily, and many are near starvation. 

Yes, dear country, San Francisco espouses many loving principles, and we do have an innate sense of justice to help immigrants, the poor, and the marginalized.

But we still have a long, long way to go. 


A San Franciscan. 




A nutritionally adequate diet costs less than $100 per month. The number of people who can't afford that and aren't spending money on other luxuries is vanishingly small.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 6:07 am

A family of five can eat well for $100 a week shopping at Whole Foods!

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 6:21 am

Didn't you get the memo? Food insecurity is not about starving anymore. It's about poor people with obesity who are on a crash course with type two diabetes. This is because you never see skinny people in the food lines and no one is actually starving in San Francisco, thank god.

But in their constant quest to increase revenue, the poverty industry now claims that we need to give the needy more so that they can shop at Whole Foods for kale and line caught salmon, etc, which I'm sure they would if we gave them more money because obviously obesity has nothing to do with poor impulse control and poor judgement.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 8:08 am

The kid broke the school's dress code. It's really that simple.

The all-white staff at SFBG pretending to care that non-white kids attend inferior schools?

Your article needs focus rather than be a generic shotgun bleat about everything not being blandly identical everywhere.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 6:11 am

They really need some much better writers.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 7:06 am

All this whining for a chick in a tux?

Posted by Chromefields on May. 20, 2014 @ 6:15 am

Jason Grant Garza here ... the article stated " Yes, dear country, you spent the last week utterly aghast that San Francisco, the champion of marriage equality, could discriminate against an LGBT teen."
Here is an even better story of deception and harm .... go to youtube and type in Jason Garza (over 400 videos) to see the videos of the FAMOUS SFPD LGBT GAY LIAISON which is advertised to treat LGBT with respect, compassion and honesty. When you watch the videos .... especially the Northern SFPD and Mission Station videos ... you will see how much of this deception and lies. Here is a good example .... .... where is my LGBT GAY LIAISON? Watch the videos ... learn the GAMES and watch the INHUMANITY. Now ask me do I feel respected, treated with compassion or honesty? Hell no; however, I do feel deceived, further harmed, thrown uncompassionate false rethoric and procedure (designed not to accomplish) and lastly I feel HONESTLY and TOTALLY BETRAYED ; however this would not be first time by San Francisco ....
Problem is most GAYS want to fit and be a part ... they (San Francisco Officials) KNOW and COUNT on that ... play to their desire to .... and NOTE in the end it is a DECEPTION. I have personally DEMANDED that these false and injurious propaganda posters at the Police Stations be taken down only to be told they would not ... watch what happens when I try to escalate to the Police Chief since he is clearly mentioned in the false deceptive advertising ... Learn the GAMES and watch the INHUMANITY.

Posted by Jason Grant Garza on May. 20, 2014 @ 6:38 am

We need to fit you with a nice LGBT tux, JGG. It'll fix you right up.

Posted by Chromefields on May. 20, 2014 @ 6:57 am

But more importantly Jason - when are you planning on committing suicide?

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 9:34 am

Quintessential Troll

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 20, 2014 @ 9:44 am

I like how cowards like you say stupid things and show how we trully lost humanity if you don't like the report why read it?
What type of person tells another go kill your self?
How low we come as humas to say so much bad stuff as adults and then wonder why kids are telling others to go kill them selfs. We teach our kids this hatred every single day and then blame it on the TV.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2014 @ 11:51 am

The reservoirs of liberal white guilt have long since been exhausted as the neoliberal onslaught has converted us all from middle class security to the precariat. This insistence by "progressives" on "the left" of hijacking populist resistance to this full court press onto the plight of "the most vulnerable" only clears the way for more neoliberal wins.

Nobody gives a shit about such relative distractions as tuxes or school funding when the basic economic security of 2/3 of the population is on the chopping block. it is as if the professional progressives were on the payroll of the neoliberals, compensated to ground out grassroots resistance to our new role as post-industrial debt peonage serfs.

Posted by marcos on May. 20, 2014 @ 7:03 am

You're making more sense than usual

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 7:12 am

Moderates hate me because I oppose supply-side corporate welfare while the professional progressives hate me because I oppose their pathological exclusive focus on "the most vulnerable."

Perhaps it is because I was raised a Jew that I do not see the Protestant work ethic favored by the conservatives nor Catholic guilt enabled martyrdom as favored by the "progressives" as viable vectors for my politics.

Posted by marcos on May. 20, 2014 @ 8:10 am

in any case, but his contrarian comments along this line have to no insignificant degree informed my theory that the Powers Elite--who are really behind *both* the "professional progressives" and winger propaganda arms such as Breitbart "News" Service--seek to play up divisive policies and so work both ends against each other while our descent into "post-industrial debt peonage serfs" continues.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 20, 2014 @ 8:33 am

The techniques at play here are not dissimilar to the techniques used to construct The Perfect Dictatorship of the Mexican PRI.

Posted by marcos on May. 20, 2014 @ 8:51 am

the types of subjects that Americans of broad social and economic backgrounds can agree on and which therefore we can make meaningful progress on.

Here's a link to the Democracy Now! audio for the segment in which Nader appeared to promote his book:

One has to wonder at the viability of an "alternative press" which consistently misses promoting stories that actually have a potential to create an alternative reality.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 20, 2014 @ 9:40 am
Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 2:08 pm

The tech industry is working hard to leave the US. They've already moved most of their technology and profits off-shore. The management and physical companies will start to follow, at least for the newer, smaller and more nimble companies. Here's an engaging video from a bright technology entrepreneur who lays out some ideas how this might happen spoken to a crowd of 1,700 at a tech start-up conference.

Another interesting development is the continuing overseas migration of millions of US trust-funders and seniors living the good life in mountains, towns, beaches and cities outside the US, taking their spending money with them. I can't wait until the millennials figure out they're paying SS tax that's being transferred overseas to millions of seniors, who recycle the US dollars in the overseas economies.

Most thinking people realize that it matters little which US party or politicians are in office. The war machine will continue (Go Hilary!), the segregation of rich and poor will continue (Go Gentrification!), and the police state will continue (Go NSA! Go Google!). If you're worrying about whether Bush, Nader or Gore became the US President, you're worrying about the wrong things.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 3:26 pm

Why go ahead and be stupid after starting out with such a strong statement? Do you honestly think that Dennis Kucinich or Senator Bernie Sanders or Ralph Nader is the same as Hillary Clinton? Why smear them in such a way? Does it perfect your sense of smug hopelessness?

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 20, 2014 @ 3:35 pm


But Nader syphoned off Gore voters to the Green Party that cost Gore Florida.

The Greens then disowned Nader, which i always thought was interesting.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 3:58 pm

None of the Nader voters "belonged" to the Democrats; they weren't in some "Democrat septic tank" waiting to be siphoned out.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 20, 2014 @ 4:42 pm

is a damning indictment of the excess taxes and regulations in what was supposed to be the engine room of the global economy but is becoming in reality a nanny state big government quasi-socialist nation like the Europe that many of us and our ancestors took great risks to depart.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 3:38 pm

The truth is only contrarian to misrepresentations.

Posted by marcos on May. 20, 2014 @ 9:01 am
Posted by lillipublicans on May. 20, 2014 @ 9:28 am

I do not take positions contrary to the professional progressives for the sake of taking positions contrary to the professional progressives, I take contrary positions when they are wrong.

When they are right, I support them. At the MTA CAC, I opposed rolling back Sunday meters, supported fare-free Muni for youth, extending it to 18 year olds and eventually to seniors and the disabled, and I supported the equity proposals currently being developed.

The sensitivity of those imbued in groupthink is severe, where they take any deviation from the left norm as implicitly supporting the right wing even as they cut deals with corporate power to maintain their franchises and sinecures.

Posted by marcos on May. 20, 2014 @ 9:56 am

We all have assholes and we all have opinions. When we start believing that our opinion is more important than others, it's time to call-in the white coats. When we go around bragging about the superior state of our asshole and opinion, it's likely the self-delusions run really deep.

Keep doing what you do best. Gentrifying the Mission and posting nonsense on a community chatboard that always takes conversations straight to the gutter, always shining the mirror on you and tossing mud at your adversaries. Thin skin, over-compensating insecurity and inability to focus on one task are a bad combination for political involvement and effectiveness.

Posted by Homer's Half-brother on May. 20, 2014 @ 2:27 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 2:43 pm

What a fabulous and thoughtful analysis. It should go viral.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 8:20 am

I keep waiting for the orders for us poor folk to head to the camps!

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 9:33 am

Do we need to be equally rich? Equally attractive? Equally intelligent? Equally tall? Equally liked? Must all choices and predilections be seen as equally worthy?

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 9:37 am

That is the only answer. Whatever it takes - we need to do it.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 10:43 am

can tell us what is enough too little.

Progressives can't tell us what the golden tax ratio is, just more.

The Randists can't tell us what the is too little, just less.

The two groups are examples of believers who know best how you should live and claim to know how society should operate, and yet they can not answer simple questions, questions that they claim to be experts at.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 4:54 pm

The fact is that high marginal tax rates on the very richest people is a stablizing factor on the economy and the last century is strongly correlated with economic vitality.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 20, 2014 @ 5:19 pm

Right on bro, power to the people.

The people who speak for "us"(although I never claimed that) are the progressives like Lilli, who lose election after election.

How did that troll barrier thing work out for you?

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 5:38 pm

Wow, another string of claims without a whit of evidence. You're on fire today!

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 5:46 pm

Would you want to live in a world that makes hardworking, law-abiding people "equal" to drifter youths who camp in the Haight to pursue meth habits, drug-dealing, and panhandling? Do you know how insane you sound?

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 5:56 pm

Well of course. A life of comfortable leisure for those very people is the brilliant, principle cause of today's progressives. I just can't understand why progressivism doesn't catch on with mainstream America.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 6:40 pm

no one is suggesting we subsidize the lifestyle choices of others ("drifter youths," as you call them, do well enough living that life style). But when they DO decide to get jobs and get housing, and leave Golden Gate Park, or leave the life of drifting state to state, we should have policies that aid them in that, rather then penalize them.

Would you rather stack citations on a homeless kid in the haight, who tries to get a job to leave that life? Or would you rather not hinder them as they gain employment, try to pay rent, and get their first stable home? It makes no sense to keep them out on the street when we could make simple policy choices (like throwing out citations) to help them re-enter the workforce. 


Posted by Joe Fitzgerald on May. 20, 2014 @ 11:19 pm

A few kids might be helped by turning the Haight into a campground and open-air pitbull mill, but more would be helped by being deterred from the sponging lifestyle.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2014 @ 6:29 am

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