Bathroom policies and their effects on the rise of social media social justice

Published: Granite Bay Gazette Vol. 18, Issue 8. Friday, May 20, 2016. Can also be read here.


 

  The heated, national controversy spurred over the creation of public bathroom policies in relation to who, depending on how gender is determined,  may use either male or female bathrooms, has been intensified by impassioned arguments from groups on either side of the issue.

  Although there are more inclusive facility alternatives, such as family or non-gendered bathrooms, often public places such as schools offer only female or male bathroom choices. In determining gender lays the controversy: North Carolina’s House Bill 2 upheld the definition of biological sex, that “stated on a person’s birth certificate” to determine gender; whereas Target, after announcing a new national bathroom policy at its stores, has declared that employees and customers alike are free to use the restroom which corresponds with their gender identity.

  “I believe policies protecting the rights of transgender individuals are important to ensuring their safety – even in the restroom,” said senior and Granite Bay High School Gender-Sex-Alliance club president Marty Kantola, who is a transgender male. “The point is, there shouldn’t be a debate about this.”

  North Carolina’s House Bill 2 was found to be discriminating against transgender individuals, and thus in violation of Title IX, which ensures the absence of gender discrimination in federally-funded education programs or activities. The Department of Justice told the state’s government officials to immediately stop enforcing the legislation, or risk losing billions of dollars in funding for North Carolina’s education programs.

  Now it seems North Carolina and the Department of Justice are embattled in a mainly philosophical dispute. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory filed a lawsuit at the end of the allotted time period given by the Department of Justice to eradicate HB2. The Department of Justice has filed its own lawsuit, citing the law’s discriminatory policies.

  Target, however, was met with public backlash for their implementation of a more progressive bathroom policy. At this time, almost 1,200,000 people have signed the American Family Association’s petition to boycott Target stores, claiming it “endangers women and children by allowing men to frequent women’s facilities.”

   “I think the main reason people are against open bathroom policies is (because) they’re afraid of people who may take advantage of the policy to sexually assault someone,” said junior Reagan Tran. “But the thing is, if someone has intent to sexually assault anybody they obviously don’t care about the law and will find a way and a place. Open restroom policies don’t promote sexual assault – they merely allow transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender with which they most comfortably identify.”

    In California, after the passing of AB 1266, transgender students who attend public school in grades K-12 may use the bathroom which corresponds to the gender they identify with, as well as play for a gendered sports team according to the same criteria.

  Jessup McGregor, a GBHS assistant principal, said the administrative staff is looking at all parties involved to be as inclusive as possible before implementing a uniform bathroom policy.

   “We are trying to move slowly because it’s charged, and I think whatever … we do, we get (complaints) from somebody,” McGregor said. “Our goal then is to … make sure we’re in compliance with what we need to do. So we work with our lawyers and have meetings about this kind of thing to make sure that we’re complying, which is good, but that’s really not the big thing. The big thing is how do we accommodate to people’s needs? How do we then (provide) service to every student on our campus?

  “You have folks who are in various stages of transition also, emotionally, physically and mentally. Each one we take as a single case basis. We have not outlined a specific (protocol), like Target has, for example. We also have to balance out with the needs, wishes and desires of everybody on campus too. So it’s hard to come up with a blanket policy just yet, so we’re going slow. We’re taking each student individually and trying to (ensure) they have a hospitable environment to go to school in and get their education in.”

  Marty Kantola pointed out that he has the right to use the bathroom that corresponds to his gender identity because he resides in California, but would still feel more comfortable in a gender neutral bathroom.

  “When it comes to Granite Bay (High School), I know that I’d be physically safe using the restroom I feel comfortable in,” Kantola said. “Personally, I’d rather use a gender neutral bathroom. For example, Del Oro actually has a two stall, gender neutral bathroom on campus, which is awesome. As for using restrooms on campus, I actually avoid using the GBHS bathrooms at all cost, because when I go in either bathroom, I’m always afraid that someone will tell me I’m in the wrong place, when all I need to do is pee.”

  Madison Shroyer, a Del Oro High School junior who transferred after attending GBHS, verified the existence of gender neutral bathrooms in the middle of campus which are open to anyone. Shroyer said she thinks it might be easier for students who are either transgender or struggling with their gender identity to use gender free bathrooms.

  GBHS, however, has no gender neutral bathrooms.

  “I think, across the education (system) in general, there’s going to be some shifting around, in terms of how we build our schools,” McGregor said. “But we have what we have right now and we have to adapt our facilities to (fit) the needs of our students.”

  In regards to improving the comfortability of students using the facilities provided at GBHS, McGregor and Kantola both said neither the GSA or administrative staff have attempted to talk to one another about the bathroom policy at GBHS.

  McGregor said that the district works with each student on a case by case basis to come up with an individual plan the student feels comfortable with.

    “(We) have a vested interest in providing students with the best services possible, regardless of what they’re coming to us with,” McGregor said. “So we would absolutely be open to having a conversation, having even forums, potentially, to make sure that everybody feels like they have a voice and has access to the decision-making process. All students have an interest in their privacy and their ability to access facilities so we’re open to hearing from everybody, certainly.

  “I think we’re all anxious to make sure that we get it right, and concerned about the implications if we get it wrong, either out of innocence or ignorance or otherwise. We all want to do the right thing by people, but it’s really hard because … a lot of people have a lot of very charged opinions. I hope that our student body has patience with us as we go through this and try to get it right.”

  Nationwide, however, schools, companies and even states are struggling to find an inclusive policy which works for everyone. The difficulty lies in meeting everyone’s needs, and when bathroom policies fall short of expectations or personal desires, the American public is using the internet as an outlet to vent their concerns.

   In regards to both Target’s newest company policy and North Carolina’s legislation, individuals took to social media or other online platforms to petition or support the policy. The AFA’s online petition is one example of mass online protest.

  The future of grassroots social movements – movements started by the public – might be more concentrated online.

  “I  think it is just in keeping with everything else in society, no one writes letters of any kind anymore – it is easy to post something to Twitter and reach tons and tons of people, so naturally people are doing that,” said Sacramento State University Government Professor David Barker, who has expertise in media and politics. “Traditional forms of protest take a lot more effort (and) organizing, and naturally most people don’t have time for that.

  “I don’t think that people don’t protest … in traditional ways. I think they (do). But again, you can’t do it that quickly because someone has to organize it. It is easy and fast to get a bunch of signatures via social media, and we have now gotten to a point when a big majority of the population is on Facebook and a substantial percentage is on Twitter.”

  Undoubtedly, the online presence of teens is particularly high – according to a study published in 2015 by the Pew Research Center, approximately 92 percent of teens surveyed said they engage in daily activities online. Teens may or may not choose to become politically active online, but if they do, is social media social justice effective?

  “I think both forms – traditional and modern – … will continue to be important,” Barker said. “Social media may be easy and it may be impactful, but it is nothing like a march. People still need to take to the streets in large numbers to really get noticed. It is bang for your energy buck: you get a lot of bang for not much effort. That is why you are seeing it used so much now.”

 However, Tran, who said she promotes her own political ideologies on her personal social media accounts “pretty often,” said she thinks social media is an effective way to make change.

  “I think social media has a larger outreach than any other form of protest does – it raises awareness in a way that is totally unique and accessible to people everywhere around the world,” Tran said. “I’d dare to say that social media is more effective than traditional organized protests or letters. Discussions about topics pop up everywhere and allow so many people to see it and really promote more people to talk about topics, especially when things get trending and hashtags get started.

  “Organized protests, even when televised, only reach so many people locally. The internet and social media are constantly checked by people, and when topics start to trend they do end up on television and other news sources. Social media really has the biggest reach of any other type of protest or discussion about a topic.”

Farewell letter to the Granite Bay Gazette

Published: Granite Bay Gazette Vol. 18, Issue 8. Friday, May 20, 2016. 


 

  For the last half of my time as a high school student, I felt I have truly found my niche on campus.

  After reading the Gazette for three years, since before I even entered high school, I only realized that I too could write for the paper after I read Caroline Palmer’s Voices piece on rape culture my sophomore year. It was a stunning piece, and I realized then that if someone in my grade could voice their opinion so openly, I too could voice my passionate opinions about social justice via the Gazette.

  One day I broached the idea of me joining the Gazette staff to my mom and now, two years later, all I can say is that my time on the Gazette has been an honor and pleasure.

  Advanced Journalism is my favorite class of the day. I have found a few of my best friends through the class and, as cliched of an idea as it is, the journalism class is like a dysfunctional but somehow functional family. There is no feeling greater, to me, than to see your hard work published in a nationally-renowned paper such as the Gazette. Doing so with my Gazette family by my side has been the best experience of my life.

  I have loved being a co-editor-in-chief this year for the Gazette alongside both Troy Pawlak and Savitri Asokan, two brilliant human beings who patiently put up with my perfectionism.

  For two years now, the non-plagiarizers group message, made up of Amanda Nist, Olivia Heppell, Caroline Palmer, Epsa Sharma and Blake Panter has been there to dissect every school event, national and local controversy and the ever-interesting 2016 Presidential race. You are all such wonderful people and I have loved our dining adventures.

  And to Mr. Grubaugh, your wisdom and entertaining anecdotes have inspired me to be both a better journalist and person. Your experience and guidance have helped me to become a deeper and more analytical thinker.

  For me, high school was an incredibly enjoyable experience, and I owe much of that to the wonderful teachers I have had. Mr. McLearan fueled my love for literature. Ms. Elkin showed me so much warmth and care that I only strive to do the same for others. Mr. Dell’Orto taught me to be more empathetic, especially by considering more than just my own perspective.

  Mr. Cordell taught me to see beauty in everything, and seek betterment through questioning and learning. Mrs. Padgett resparked my passion for social justice and love of writing. Mr. Westberg taught me to examine my own ideology and then take action. Mr. McGregor showed me humility and kindness, although he wasn’t afraid to point out how he knew I had started to tune him out after asking a question. And Mr. Grubaugh, of course, introduced me to my passion for journalism, which I will be forever thankful for.

  If this serves as my senior advice to my class or future seniors, what I have to say is there is so much more learning to be done! There is a world of knowledge waiting to be uncovered and absorbed – explore a museum, read a book (I recommend Murakami), watch a movie (too many to recommend), constantly seek to improve, reevaluate and better yourself. Be a contributing member of society – be a voice for justice. But above all, continue to be kind.

  

Religious organization’s presence on GBHS campus sparks discussion

Published: Granite Bay Gazette Vol. 19, Issue 6. Friday, March 4, 2016. Can also be read here.

Note: This story was co-written alongside Caroline Palmer and Olivia Heppell


 

  Dating back to 1802, the idea of a separation of church and state can be contributed to Thomas Jefferson, who wrote about it in a centuries-old letter to a group associated with another, different religious group. Although this separation is not guaranteed in the Constitution, it is a guaranteed assurance which took root in a clause issued by the Supreme Court after their ruling in Everson v. Board of Education.

  It may be confusing for students then, specifically those at Granite Bay High School, to distinguish why Campus Life, a non-denominational national faith-affiliated organization which is in over one thousand schools, is given access to a public high school campus. Whether seen at lunch on Thursdays sitting at a bannered Campus Life table or intentionally invited by the school district to talk to struggling students, Campus Life has a long history of appearing on the GBHS campus, but in more cases and for more reasons than might be initially thought.

  “In my time at Granite Bay (High School), we chaperoned the dances, the freshmen class – even to this year – builds their float at my house and when bad things happen, the school calls us,” said Rob Maxey, Campus Life’s Executive Director of Youth for Christ Ministries in Sacramento. “The principal … will call and say ‘Hey, we’ve got some kids that are in trouble, could you help? (Or) we have a kid that has attempted suicide, … would you reach out to the family and connect with them? (Or) … we have a kid that has committed suicide, would you consider doing the candle light vigil?’ So we’ve really been intricately engaged with Granite Bay for the last 20 years.”

  Although many students were under the misconception that Campus Life is affiliated with Bayside, the organization is not related to any one church. Young Life, another Christian-affiliated youth organization has similar goals and similar means in which they accomplish these goals, but is a separate entity from Campus Life.

  In regards to the significance of religion in the organization, according to Maxey, the faith component is always optional. In general, Campus Life focuses on character, confidence, responsibility and, as an optional component, faith.  

  Overall, a large aspect of Campus Life’s goal as a national organization is community outreach and betterment.

  “(For) a lot of the underserved kids at (local) schools, we figure out how to pay their life bills,” Maxey said. “We help coach the basketball team at Adelante and buy the kids’ shoes because people can’t afford them. We’re faith-based, (but) we’re not footing bibles in people’s shoes when we give them. When a kid gets suspended or expelled from Granite Bay and they go to the district office, I go as an advocate and sit in on the expulsion hearings, …we’re just trying to (help) local kids that have practical needs. We have that kind of advocacy for kids that don’t have advocates. I’m not just a random guy who showed up one day and said ‘Hey, let’s hang out with kids.’”

  Campus Life, as both a community-based local and national organization, has such a large array of responsibilities and past involvements that, for some students, it was hard to distinguish in one clear thought exactly who or what they were. Maxey said that although he thinks they communicate their purpose very clearly outside of school, the purpose for Campus Life’s presence on a school campus may be a little confusing.

  Especially for those uninvolved, the confusion over one concise goal might be a reason explaining why some students feel uneasy with Campus Life’s presence at GBHS.

  Junior Julia Huss said that although she thinks religious clubs should be allowed on campus, she does not personally think Campus Life should be allowed on because it seems as if they are looking to proselytize students.

  According to Advanced Placement Government teacher Jarrod Westberg, it is a conflict of interest that a religious organization is at GBHS.

  “If they are religiously affiliated and (openly admit they are), then it is a huge conflict of interest to be on a school,” Westberg said. “If they say they are religiously affiliated and if they are trying to push their religion on people they should absolutely not be here, in a legal sense. I am sure that that group has found the legal way to get into the school, but looking at it, if that’s what they’re doing, it’s totally wrong.”

   However, the fact that Campus Life is a religious organization might not be the sole aspect that makes some students feel uncomfortable. Some students have said they are also perturbed by representatives who come to promote Campus Life – most are adults rather than GBHS students. The lack of other religiously-affiliated school clubs may also intensify a student’s discomfort.

   “I think as school clubs, you should be able to have a club surrounded by your religion or talk about your religion or culture (but) if … kids were in charge of it, it would be different because when it’s adults, you feel more of a weird pressure,” Huss said. “I would be open to them having all kids running it for all different religions, all different cultures When it’s adults and it’s only one religion, it’s weird.”

  Keaton Dougherty, a junior, said that he also finds the presence of adults on campus to promote a religious school club to be disconcerting. Dougherty said that he is uncomfortable that adults, rather than students, are in charge of the booth.

    When asked about her thoughts regarding some students discomfort over the appearance of Campus Life at GBHS, Leighton said she would need to know more about students’ feelings of discomfort but that there isn’t any direct pressure to interact with the club.

  “My understanding is that they are positive adults hanging out at the request of our student-run Campus Life Club,” Leighton said. “There’s certainly no obligation to talk to Campus Life adults, or to even go to that far end of the campus where their table is set up.  As long as they are invited by our student club, and have gone through the proper clearance channels – i.e. they’ve checked in at the office and the teacher responsible for the club is expecting their arrival – we can’t deny their presence.”

  However, according to Westberg, it is also a conflict of interest not only that the group is religiously-affiliated but also that they are making students uneasy at school – a place where students should be made to feel completely at ease.

  “Any group that’s here on campus should absolutely not be here if they are making students feel uncomfortable – whether it’s a Christian group (or) a Muslim group. The number one job of the school district is to protect the students – period. It is not to say ‘Well this group is okay in our eyes.’ If students are being made to feel uncomfortable they should absolutely not be on campus.”

  Huss said that, to her, it seems as if GBHS is pushing an “overall ideal of what you have to be to be on this campus” by allowing Campus Life access.

  Westberg also said that them being on campus is a “definite indirect endorsement.”

 According to Ethan Guttman, a Jewish senior at GBHS who said he attended Campus Life meetings his freshman year with his two friends – both of whom were atheists – although he does not necessarily like Campus Life being on campus, he thinks their goals and aspirations are admirable. When Guttman was involved with the organization, he said the meeting were like a “social group for kids.”

   Similarly, Destiny Valencia, a junior who still participates in Campus Life, talked highly of the social aspect of Campus Life when asked why she attends meetings.

  “A couple of friends told me how interesting it was and how everybody is so nice and people are there for you so … I went and (that) got me involved,” Valencia said. “(At meetings) we hang out, we talk about God and then we’ll do activities and they’ll have food for us – so it’s pretty fun.”

  According to Maxey, meetings are led according to the national curriculum. The meetings are topical, followed by a discussion and video.

 “(February is) love month, so we’ll talk about parent relationships, peer relationships (and) girlfriend/boyfriend (relationships),” Maxey said. “We spend most of our time in small groups where we really listen. Our goal is (to) talk ten percent of the time and (have) the kids talk 90 percent of the time. It just allows students a venue to be heard, so it’s not a preaching thing – (like) telling you how to live your life – it’s like ‘Here’s some parameters, why don’t you tell us what your experiences are with dating or your parents or divorce.’ We facilitate conversations more than we sit and lecture about stuff.”

  Although Maxey himself is not a licensed counselor, the organization does work with such mental health professionals, as well as other services.

  “We certainly have counselors on staff and … nationally many of our programs work with licensed therapists,” Maxey said. “(When) we do Point Break, (which) is … an anti-bullying program (and) … an evidence-based faith-neutral all-day workshop. In those all-day workshops we do have licensed counselors and then we actually work with the school counselors and people from the police department. I’m not a counselor, so I don’t offer counseling advice … (but) we refer out and we’re mandated reporters so if something bad happens I’m the guy that calls the school. As a non-profit youth organization all of our staff is mandated reporters.”

   At the school level, Campus Life serves as a club on the GBHS campus and sets up a booth once a week. Religion is never discussed on campus but is discussed briefly at meetings held outside of school.

  According to the Equal Access Act, school-based clubs cannot be discriminated against over presence on campus, which is what guarantees the Campus Life club the right to exist.

   “The … Act states that it’s illegal for public high schools to discriminate among student clubs,” GBHS principal Jennifer Leighton said. “Additionally, public schools have to remain neutral on matters of religion, and nonreligious matters.  That means that no adults – either employees of our school or those that come from the outside – can lead religious activities. Only our students can.”

  Although they are guaranteed the right to exist as a club, Campus Life, when visiting the GBHS campus, must follow a certain set of regulations.

  According to the Granite Bay High School Roseville Joint Union High School District Student Handbook for 2015-16, “student visitors are not allowed on the GBHS campus during the school day.  Pre-authorized adult visitors must check-in at the front office and wear a visitor’s pass at all times.”

  Some students wonder how other organizations with a different religious affiliation other than Christianity would be welcomed on the GBHS campus,

  “I’m sure (an Islamic club) would be judged a lot more.”  Dougherty  said, “I feel like there would definitely be complaints (but) I don’t know if they would be removed.”

  Huss also said that she thinks the school would never allow a Muslim-affiliated club to come on campus.

  However, Leighton said that she has had conversations with different students about inviting different religiously-affiliated groups on campus and that they are more than welcome.

   “A Muslim or Jewish (or other religiously-affiliated) organization would definitely be allowed on campus,” Leighton said. “Students have asked me this in the past, and I’ve always answered in the affirmative.  The important distinction is that a student club/group must invite them – it can’t be initiated by their particular organization.”

  In regards to their overall purpose, Maxey spoke more of their community-based approach rather than their religious-affiliation, although he says that that is also an important factor in what they do.

  “One of the things that psychologists have discovered is … that when it comes to assets for kids to be successful, one of the things that has been proven (important) over and over again, is that caring adults in kids’ lives really makes a difference,” Maxey said. “So regardless of the faith background, having adults that care, that have been background checked and screened, … it’s nothing but positive. Having more caring adults in life as a kid is a good thing. Having the right caring adults in the lives of kids (is good).

  “I would say that there is a faith component to everything that we do. So in one sense, I don’t want to dodge the question, I don’t want to say that (faith) is not a motivating factor (because) that’s absolutely part of our motivation is (wanting) our faith to shine through our actions. But, it’s much more than that.”

No taxation on my menstruation

Published: Granite Bay Gazette Vol. 19, Issue 7. Thursday, April 14, 2016. Can also be read here.


 

   The debate over the so-called “tampon tax” –  the argument over whether or not feminine hygiene products should be exempt from sales tax – has inspired two female members of the California State Assembly, Cristina Garcia and Ling Ling Chang, to introduce a bill which would eliminate the sales tax on all tampons and sanitary napkins, period.

  While California is not the first state to introduce such a bill, it is by no means a minority in the taxation of tampons  – 40 states, plus the District of Columbia, have such a “tampon tax.” In general, sales taxes are under the authority of states and are, most often, implemented automatically on all goods and services unless otherwise noted by a state government.

  Maryne Matthews, a Granite Bay High School sophomore and president of the Feminist club, said she completely supports AB 1561.

   “It being taxed is ridiculous,” Matthews said. “Let’s say someone buys a box of tampons every month, and this goes on for, let’s say, age 12 to 50 – that’s almost 40 years worth (of buying tampons). It adds up, and it’s not like you can control that.”

  The Huffington Post calculated that – assuming four tampons a day on a five-day period from a $7 box containing 36 tampons – a woman will spend almost $1,800 on tampons over her lifetime. She will use approximately 9,120 tampons, or 253-plus boxes of 36. In the course of a year, she will have spent about $47.

  Using this logic, and the findings from obgyn.net that the mean age for a first-time period is just under 13 years old, the average female will have spent about $235 on just her tampons alone by the time she is 18 and a senior in high school. This cost does not factor in the price of birth control, menstrual medication such as Midol, heating pads or the occasional chocolate bar.

  For the entire state of California, assemblywoman Garcia’s office found that the state would lose about $20 million of sales tax revenue per year if this bill passes.

  “Given that the size of the loss in tax revenue is small – an estimated $20 million loss to a proposed budget of approximately $170 billion – it is unlikely that removing the tax would be significantly detrimental to California’s economy,” said Sacramento State economics professor Kristin Van Gaasbeck. “While the loss of $20 million will certainly affect spending on certain programs, … the loss in revenue is very small when compared with the overall size of the budget. It accounts for only 0.01 percent of the overall 2016-2017 budget, and only 0.77 percent of sales tax revenue.”

  Professor George Jouganatos, an economist at Sacramento State University, said this loss in tax revenue will be minimal, especially because the money saved – which would have been spent on the sales tax – will likely be spent elsewhere.

  “It will be a decrease in revenues from this particular product, (but) it may not even be $20 million if the savings are spent on something where there is a sales tax,” Jouganatos said. “Let’s say (it’s a loss of) 50 cents per month per woman … what is she going to do with this 50 cents now? Spend it elsewhere. There will be sales tax, perhaps, on that item (she buys).”

  The idea of a multiplier effect – that there is a ripple effect created from purchases because one person’s spending becomes another person’s income that multiplies the effects of the original spending – helps explain why the loss of tax revenue might not be $20 million. If a woman spends her sales tax savings, that becomes someone else’s income, which then gets spent somewhere else.

Savings by schools

  Most high school females are responsible for purchasing their own menstrual products, but products such as these are sometimes made available to students.

   According to Kris Knapp, the Roseville Joint Union High School District’s assistant director of the maintenance and operations department, site nurses at schools in the district are responsible for purchasing their own feminine hygiene products which are then made available to students.

  At Oakmont High School, these products are not purchased but are instead donated by Kotex. This was the case at Granite Bay High School until recently.

  According to GBHS nurse Jenny Serrano, the school stopped receiving donations about six months ago. She said she purchases about $60 dollars of tampons every three months to stock the restroom in the office.

  Placer County’s sales tax is 7.50 percent. Given that GBHS purchases about $20 of tampons per month, after the sales tax exemption the school would save about $1.50 – or, $15 per year.

  Not very significant, but savings nonetheless.

Fairness of the pink tax

  Sales taxes, in general, are regressive.

  “Regressive (means that) the lower the income, the bigger the burden the tax is,” Jouganatos said. “The sales tax depends on the county, but that (designated sales tax) impacts a poor person a lot more than a rich person.”

 Mathews, the GBHS feminist club president, said it’s the equivalent of taxing those with a uterus … merely because they happen to have a uterus.

  So what determines whether or not products such as this one are taxed?

  “It is difficult to draw lines as to what should and should not be taxed,” Van Gaasbeck said. “That being said, I think it is clear that feminine hygiene products are a necessity. There are good reasons to exempt these products from sales taxes. The sales tax is regressive and disproportionately affects lower-income individuals. Since these products are used only by women and they are a necessity, the tax also disproportionately affects women.

  “Taxes on feminine hygiene products are certainly regressive and disproportionately burden lower-income individuals because they are a necessity rather than a luxury. While one could argue that these products are not absolutely necessary, I would argue that they are at least as necessary as orange juice, ice cream or popcorn – all of which are exempt from sales tax in California.”

Alternatives to regressive taxes   

  In the case of the pink tax, Assembly members Garcia and Chang have decided to attempt to eliminate the sales tax completely. But there might be different options.

  For example, there are ways of making a sales tax progressive – meaning that the financial burden of the tax increases as income increases, poorer classes pay less and richer classes pay more.

  “There would be ways, yes, (to make a) sales tax progressive,” Jouganatos said. “It would be complicated, and maybe not feasible. For instance, you would have a luxury tax on goods that are for luxury consumption, a higher tax rate on yachts, really expensive cars, that sort of thing. We (could also) have a return – after the poor person pays the sales tax, which is regressive, then we return the money in a different form to those who qualify. That would be a way to reverse the (inequality).”

In defense of periods

 The bill will be examined by California Assembly legislative committees and might eventually be voted on, perhaps even becoming law and thus eliminating the tampon tax.

  “I hope the bill gets passed,” Matthews says, “and that people see it as something that needs to be done.”

Memorial piece: Eric Seidman

Published: Granite Bay Gazette Vol. 19, Issue 7. Thursday, April 14, 2016. Can also be read here.


 

     The parking lot of Temple Or Rishon in Orangevale was overfilled, with cars and people spilling into the adjacent church. A line of people formed and snaked to the side of the building to even reach the doors of the Temple. Mary Seidman, Eric Seidman’s mother, stepped out into the warm April day to hug each and every guest.

 The inside of the Temple was filled to the brim; only on High Holy Days is the temple ever this crowded. The memorial, while somber, was jovial and humorous – a reflection of the joyous man it honored.

  Rachel Seidman, sister of Eric Seidman and a 2009 GBHS graduate, shared a light-hearted and touching tribute to her brother, which consisted of the top ten things she learned from him. Mark Seidman, father of Eric Seidman, also shared a moving speech – he spoke of his son as a determined, talented young man and shared remorse for those who did not have the pleasure of knowing him.

  Hundreds of people gathered to share memories to honor the life of Eric Seidman. A community gathered to reflect. In the words of Jenny Padgett, one of Seidman’s high school teachers, Seidman’s passing has been followed by “a communal mourning.”

 During his senior year at Granite Bay High School, Eric Seidman served as associated student body president. After graduating in 2008, he went on to graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2012, earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

  Seidman, an active rock climber, was climbing Gibraltar Rock outside Santa Barbara, where he lived, when he fell and sustained fatal injuries. He was 26 years old.

  Both Seidman’s high school friends and teachers remember his wonderful leadership as ASB president and his overall friendly and positive demeanor.

  2007 GBHS graduate Katie Lall served on the student government cabinet, the leaders of the class, with Seidman.

  “When I think of Eric, I can’t help but smile,” Lall said.  “He always made me laugh, and he was a person you looked forward to spending time with because you knew there would be lots of laughter involved. He was genuine and kind.

  “I don’t remember ever hearing him say something hurtful or mean or negative about anyone. I can honestly only think of positive memories of him. I knew I would always have a fun time if he were around because he made any situation fun and exciting with his sense of humor, goofy personality and genuine concern for those around him. I know I can speak for many about him truly being a one-of-a-kind guy.”

  Seidman was involved in the student government program his sophomore, junior and senior year. He was also junior class president his junior year.

  Activities director Tamara Givens grew very close to Seidman and remembers him for his kindness and warmth.

  “SG became his home,” Givens said. “He found (his niche) and he fell in love with it, and then he wanted to be ASB president. He was a fabulous leader.  One of the things I told his dad was, ’I adored Eric every day I had him in class.’ He was just so kind and loving. I still see him in front of the class being goofy.

  “One of the (graduates posted online, saying), ’He was the nicest boy in Granite Bay,’ and that’s true. He was just such a nice kid, (and) an incredible leader. He was everybody’s friend. He had a tremendously diverse friend group (and) was friends with so many different kinds of kids. He was that kid who just reached out.”

  Ted Marsden, a 2008 graduate, said he thinks everyone in the graduating class of 2008 felt Seidman perfectly fit his role as class president and was a “true leader.”

  Darrin Pagel, a GBHS precalculus teacher, spoke highly of Seidman’s impact on those around him and his involvement in student government.

  “Eric was that guy that everyone gravitated to,” Pagel said. “He had an infectious personality and was always so positive. He was a friend to all, never excluding people and made sure students hanging out on the fringes were included. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to work with Eric when he was in Student Government, he led well and was a servant leader … and I’m sure his impact on people extended beyond the walls of GBHS. He will be greatly missed.”

  Brandon Dell’Orto, the Advanced Placement United States History teacher who had Seidman as a student, said he remembers how Seidman always kept his activities balanced and had no problem leading his class. Additionally, Dell’Orto said he never remembers Seidman ever being upset or sad, “he was just full (of) energy, enjoying (the) challenges he had.”

  Many of those in Seidman’s graduating class of 2008 mentioned how he went above and beyond his title and truly led their class.

  Blaze Russo, a 2008 GBHS graduate, said he always saw Seidman as a key character in his high school years.

  “I’ve always seen him as the leader of our class of 2008,” Russo said. “He was always one to come alongside his classmates and inspire them. I think that’s one of the reasons this loss has been hard for us – at some point in our high school days, Eric came alongside each and every one of us and shared some encouragement and motivated us to be our best selves. I believe he did this in big ways and small (ways).”

   Aside from leading his classmates in Student Government, Seidman was also a leader in his extracurricular athletic activities. At GBHS, Seidman was on the track team.

  Pratik Shah, a 2008 graduate who was on the track team with Seidman, said he served as a motivational force even in physical education classes.

  “One of my strongest memories of Eric was actually in P.E. sophomore year,” Shah said. “Most people would complain (about) the mile runs. However, Eric and I and a couple of the other track kids would use it as a chance to see how we were progressing. I was just starting out with distance running, and Eric was way faster than I was. As the semester went on, I started getting to the point where I could kind of keep up. Instead of being competitive, he would slow down (and) help me push myself so I would run faster than I would have on my own. He was always encouraging the people around him to do better.”

  Givens said Seidman had “a very witty humor” and would do things just because he knew he would make her laugh. She also said he brought in and played Jewish rap music in the student government room and made the class a CD of songs.

  Seidman accompanied Givens on the Senior Europe trip in 2008 along with the entire SG cabinet.

  “We were fortunate enough to be in Europe during the Eurocup, so every night we would go and find a pub or somewhere to watch soccer,” Givens said. “European soccer fans are crazy about their soccer, and we were in Germany in a pub watching the game and the Germans said all of these chants … and Eric listened and learned them all. So he’s chanting them all and we’re saying them, but that wasn’t good enough for him. He went back and looked up everything on his phone and afterward he came and (told us) what we were all saying. He was so excited about learning those German chants. Most kids go to Europe to drink alcohol, but he was excited to learn German chants.”

   Padgett, who teaches International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge and Advanced Placement Literature at GBHS, said she knew Seidman through her daughter, Jenavieve Hatch, a 2008 GBHS graduate who knew Seidman in junior high as well as at GBHS and went to Sadie Hawkins with him as freshmen. Padgett also knew him as a student in her English class in his sophomore year.

  “Eric was a beautiful person,” Padgett said. “He was happy and radiated that. He liked to laugh, he liked to have fun, he wasn’t overly serious, but he was a hard worker and a good student. He liked to participate in class, he was one of those kids that would jump in and participate and talk. He would read poems, he would talk about literature, he loved to have those discussions. He was just truly memorable, you wouldn’t forget Eric if you had him in class because he left an impression.”

  Padgett also said that the conversations she has had about Seidman after his passing may sound cliché – his kindness, positivity and general characterization as a good person – but in his case, it’s all “just very true.” She also spoke of his friendliness.

  “Everyone says, ’Eric was my best friend,’ and they all felt that way,” Padgett said. “It’s because he made people feel that way. He made you feel like you were good friends and (that) everyone had a connection and a story. He stayed in touch with people. He was doing cool things.

  “He and my daughter spent some time together when (they were both) in London studying in college. He would stay in touch with you on the other side of the world – that was remarkable. That (2008) class stayed really close, and I think he’s a big part of that.”

  Katie Lall said she knows that, after high school,  he was the same kind person she remembered him as at GBHS.

   “Even though I haven’t seen him over the last few years, I know he was still the same Eric who loved people and made people feel loved,” Lall said. “I know so many are hurting over this tragic news, but I hope his family can find some peace and comfort knowing Eric made a lasting impression on me and so many others. His life is a true testimony (to) the importance of being a friend to everyone around you.”

  Marsden said he was with high school friends at the time he learned of Seidman’s passing.

  “We were just shocked,” Marsden said. “We each shared some memories we had of him, which then turned into laughter – which is exactly how I want to remember Eric. The small silver lining to this tragedy is that it’s brought friends and classmates together. He will be remembered as a great friend, a good leader and a beloved dude. He was the best of us.”

  Givens has been an activities director for 17 years, and Seidman is the first student government graduate who has died. One of the things Givens said she will miss about Seidman is his hugs.

  “One of the things (I remember) is he was the best hugger – he would hug you like he meant it,” Givens said. “He wasn’t afraid to hug people for a long time. He didn’t let go right away. That’s just something that was a great quality about him.

  “I’m just devastated. I can’t stay in touch with everybody – I’ve been teaching a long time and it’s getting harder and harder to stay in touch with people – but I know where my ASB presidents are. A lot of them have gotten married and had baby showers and just the fact that he’s gone and is not going to be part of that makes me very sad. I’m mostly really devastated for his family, they were very close. Every night I go to bed thinking about him and every day I wake up and I think ’Eric’s gone.’ We’ll see when that stops, but … that’s been hard. Just knowing he’s not here is sad.”

  Givens said she remembers Seidman telling her how much he loved living in Santa Barbara and how he wanted to live there forever.

  Padgett also said she hopes the community reaches out to take care of the Seidman family and one another during this somber time.

  Padgett said she thinks Seidman leaves a legacy of “joy.”

  “When I think of Eric, I think of joy,” Padgett said. “And what a huge thing to have everybody think about you. Let’s remember that – life is supposed to be something we’re all having a pretty good time doing, and I’m going to remember that.

  “In a way, none of us will ever quite be the same. It’s final and permanent and it happened and it’s a loss in every sense of the word. When someone that young and that beautiful and full of promise dies, I think we all reflect on our generosity of spirit. Eric was a model for living your life and being happy in the moment, and I hope people do that.”

Memorial piece: Jerry Bogard

Published: Granite Bay Gazette Vol. 19, Issue 7. Thursday, April 14, 2016. Can also be read here.


 

   After graduating from Granite Bay High School in 2008, Jerry Bogard went on to graduate from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo with honors and a degree in Agricultural Business. He was hired straight out of college by Deloitte Consulting, which is where he worked until his passing.

  On Friday, March 4, Bogard ended his own life.

  “I can honestly say it was the worst day of my life,” Kim Nash, Bogard’s cousin, said. “I love this wonderful boy with all my heart. He had so much good in him (and) he wanted only the best for other people. He had demons haunting him that none of us are likely to understand, and he just couldn’t see what a wonderful and amazing person he truly was.”

  Since his passing, Bogard’s friends and family have reflected on his character and praised the warm and caring person he was.

  As a preteen, 2008 GBHS graduate Jenavieve Hatch said she was “hopelessly in love” with him for over a year and, at 13, had her first kiss with him. As a friend, she spoke highly of his open-mindedness.

  “I never felt like I couldn’t be at least a little insane around him, and that was why I loved him,” Hatch said. “Around Jerry, I did not care that I was more or less detached from reality and desperate for love and validation. Jerry was dark. I was dark. I could be dark around Jerry  – a rare find in one’s early teenage adolescent years.”

  Hatch said as freshmen she and Bogard were partners for one unit in French. On the day of a graded assessment, he was absent from school.

  “I was annoyed, but physically incapable of being angry with him because I knew that Jerry would never intentionally flake and also because I had just spent the last two years being obsessed with his every sentence,” Hatch said. “The next day, before first period started, I stood near the door to our French class chatting with a friend from my cross country team when Jerry panted over and interrupted the conversation. He put his hand on my shoulder and … said, ‘Jena, I am so, so sorry.’ That was Jerry – earnest at his core when earnestness was not the cool thing to be. He was never anything but kind to me.”

  Allison Eklund, a 2008 GBHS graduate who worked alongside Bogard at the Robeks owned by his cousin, Kim Nash, remembered his genuine care and concern for his friends.

  “From working together at Robeks, to going through high school heart breaks, he was a wonderful friend who I felt I could truly lean on in times of need, and also share some of the most wonderful and celebrated moments of high school (with),” Eklund said. “I remember being there for him during a difficult breakup, and he too was there for me when I had my heart crushed.

  “He challenged me to value myself more than I did as a teenage girl. He told me I deserved to be treated better (and) … although I didn’t want to hear that or address it at the time, I know that was a really powerful moment in my life. Deep down, I always knew Jerry meant this from a place of genuine care. He cared for his friends deeply, and he wasn’t afraid to say what needed to be said.”

   Eklund also said that Bogard was “a gentleman” who “understood how to treat women” – during their friendship, he made her feel physically and emotionally safe and cared for.

  Lauren Berkema, another 2008 GBHS graduate, said her friendship with Bogard was more accidental than purposeful, and because of this she cherished it even more.

  “It is impossible not to notice Jerry,” Berkema said. “Everything about him to me was so intentional – what he wore to school, what car he drove, his physique, his afterschool activities. What made our friendship so special to me is that he never intended on being friends with me. He actually wrote in my yearbook that he always thought I was weird and, after meeting me, he was right. But despite his best efforts and greatest intentions, I forced him to be my friend. His genuine annoyance with me became more of an endearing annoyance with me. I personally think it was because of all the flattery, I don’t think I went a day without reminding him about his muscles.

  “When I think of Jerry now, and when I look back on pictures of him, … what I really see is his smile. He radiates confidence, and entitlement and life. That is why losing him is so hard, because you look at his face and you see life.

  At GBHS, Bogard was an active athlete, playing for the school’s lacrosse team. 2006 GBHS graduate Kevin Sinor said that one thing he remembers about Bogard is him being “a really good lacrosse player.”

  Bogard’s cousin, Kyle Nash, a 2008 GBHS graduate who is the son of Kim Nash, Bogard’s aforementioned older cousin, also mentioned his strong athleticism.

  “Jerry was a great competitor and extremely loyal as a friend, family member and teammate,” Kyle Nash said. “I have many fond memories of Jerry, but his effort and enthusiasm on the lacrosse field will be something that sticks with me forever.”

  Aside from having connections to teammates, Bogard also grew close to a few teachers during his time at GBHS. Bogard was a teacher’s assistant for Jarrod Westberg, an Advanced Placement Government teacher who was struck by Bogard’s maturity as a junior.

  “He ended up being a TA during first period on my prep (period) so I got to know him really well,” Westberg said. “He had a lot of stuff going on in his life (and) was confiding in me. I usually don’t get at that level with my students too often, but he would ask a lot of very important questions about life (so) I got to know him really well.

  “He was just a very nice kid. Very mature – way, way beyond his years. I think his life experiences … made him grow up very fast.”

  Sinor also thought Bogard was “mature beyond his years” and Hatch said, at the time, he “seemed to have been alive longer than fourteen years.”

  Another teacher who Bogard grew close to was Advanced Placement United States History teacher Brandon Dell’Orto.

  “Jerry was such a great kid,” Dell’Orto said. “Boisterous, smiling all the time. He obviously was hiding a lot of stuff that he was dealing with. He and I had long talks about stuff, (just) trying to get through the crap part of life. But man, what a great kid.”

  After high school ended, many of Bogard’s friends said they failed to stay in contact with him and wish, in retrospect, they had.

  Sinor said he regrets not staying in contact with Bogard and other friends from high school.

  “I think my biggest regret would be not staying in contact with people I really cared about in high school. You never know when they need somebody,” Sinor said.

  Sinor said he will remember Bogard as “down to earth and full of life.”

  Lauren Berkema also said she regrettably did not keep in touch with many people after high school, including Bogard.

  “I have been torturing myself with thousands of ‘if onlys’ since I heard of his death,” Berkema said. “About a month before he passed, he added me on LinkedIn. I remember looking at his profile and thinking how successful he is now, how proud I am of him and how I should call him. It breaks my heart that I no longer have that opportunity.

  “I have learned that I would have never regretted calling. I have chosen to carry the lessons I have learned from my friendship with Jerry with me from now on. To be open to letting in those people who want to be in your life, and to hold on to the people you want to keep in your life. I wish I could tell him all of this now.”

  After graduation, Allison Eklund said she did keep in contact with Bogard.

  “I remember being so excited for him when he got accepted to Cal Poly SLO,” Eklund said. “Once we were both freshmen in college, I did visit him in SLO and I got to see a glimpse of his new college life – (it was) full of friends and life, and remembering this still puts a giant smile on my face. Even in college, Jerry was still the responsible and brotherly figure he’d always been in high school.”

  After graduating from Cal Poly, Kim Nash said Bogard loved his new job and was loved by his colleagues.

  “Jerry worked hard at college and got a degree in agribusiness from Cal Poly in four years,” Nash said. “He immediately got hired right out of college by Deloitte Consulting, a job he had until the day he passed.  They loved him there! I’ve heard so many stories this past month about what a character he was at work and how he brought ‘cool’ to the office. He had great opportunities to travel with his job and made lots of friends in several different cities around the United States, many of whom came to pay their respects and share their Jerry stories.

   “While Jerry’s job was based out of the Bay Area, he bought a house in Roseville 2.5 years ago and was able to work from here. He did this so he could be closer to family, and live where it was more affordable. He was active in his church, always enjoyed going to the gym and loved any outdoor activity … but he was particularly fond of fishing. Wherever you found Jerry, his big black lab, Diesel, was not far behind. He loved that big dog!”

 Bogard’s family wishes to state that “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” and strongly encourages those feeling low to reach out for help.

  Hatch said she believes in the words from the following quote from the book “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara, which are said by the protagonist’s adoptive father about his son’s suicide, about Bogard’s death:

  “Or maybe he is closer still: maybe he is that gray cat that has begun to sit outside our neighbor’s house, purring when I reach out my hand to it; …  maybe he is that flower that suddenly bloomed on the rhododendron bush I thought had died long ago; maybe he is that cloud, that wave, that rain, that mist. It isn’t only that he died, or how he died; it is what he died believing. And so I try to be kind to everything I see, and in everything I see, I see him.”

***

If you or anyone you know has thought about or attempted suicide, please call the California Youth Crisis Line at 1-800-843-5200.

 

ONLINE: The slideshow shown at Jerry Bogard’s memorial service is viewable here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40GUSsXGRc4