Proyecto Poderoso/Project Powerful

LGBT Youth and Parent Summits

At each LGBT Youth Summit, parents learn about their children’s rights at school. Guest speakers also discuss the importance of family acceptance and their role in preventing suicide, drug use, homelessness, and other behaviors disproportionately affecting LGBT youth.

At each LGBT Youth Summit, parents learn about their children's rights at school. Guest speakers also discuss the importance of family acceptance and their role in preventing suicide, drug use, homelessness, and other behaviors disproportionately affecting LGBT youth.

At a recent CRLA-hosted summit, 30 parents and 40 youth gathered in a classroom in the Central Valley to pose some difficult questions: How can we protect our children from being bullied? What are their rights at school? How can we help our children survive their teenage years? All the participants were parents of LGBT youth, for whom these issues are particularly urgent: as LGBT people continue to become more visible in rural areas, they are also more at risk of harm, from others and themselves.

Proyecto Poderoso (Project Powerful), a collaboration between CRLA and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), is working to change that. Research has found that when families are proactive about asserting their LGBT children's rights, they can play a leading role in making school safer for students, and ensuring their community prioritizes the civil rights of all its children.

At each LGBT Youth Summit, parents learn about their children's rights at school-and how to ensure those rights are being protected. Guest speakers also discuss the importance of family acceptance and the role family can play in preventing suicide, drug use, homelessness, and other behaviors disproportionately affecting LGBT youth. Parents have an opportunity to interact with other parents, and to discover and share established LGBT resources where they live.

"We're bringing legal resources to where people are," says program director and CRLA attorney Dan Torres. "CRLA is tackling some difficult issues and building on emerging local LGBT resources. Most importantly, we are working with LGBT youth and their families to come up with good, community-driven solutions and create safer schools in rural communities."

The summits are funded in part by a grant from the Small Change Foundation.


Fast Facts LGBT Program PDF.

CRLA Fast Facts
LGBT Program

CRLA is dedicated to increasing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in rural California by improving access to justice and expanding civic engagement opportunities.

Download the PDF


Harassment and Discrimination Have No Place in Our Community

CRLA Raises Awareness on Rural LGBT Issues

For decades, CRLA has advocated for justice on behalf of the rural poor in California, regardless of the source of the threat or injustice. CRLA attorneys and staff members fight to safeguard the basic human rights that often hit low-income people the hardest, ensuring that all individuals feel safe in their own communities, without fear of harassment or discrimination.

While LGBT people are becoming more visible in rural California, homophobia and transphobia - hostility towards gay and transgender people - remain entrenched. In 2009, hate crimes targeting LGBT people were the second most common type of hate crime in California.

In the fall of 2010, the media brought national attention to the important issue of LGBT harassment after a wave of gay teenagers committed suicide. Unfortunately, many LGBT individuals face threats, bullying and tragic outcomes, like what happened with a Tehachapi teenager last year.

To raise awareness about anti-LGBT bias, CRLA has joined a multi-agency Hate Crimes Task Force organized by the U.S. Department of Justice. The 2009 Mathew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act gives federal law enforcement agencies jurisdiction over hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity bias.

LGBT Conference.In November 2010, CRLA co-sponsored the Stockton Transgender Day of Remembrance. CRLA worked with local leaders to bring community members together, including the first-ever elected transgender judge, to discuss the impact of hatred on the LGBT community and to remember the victims who have been killed because of transphobia.

In 2011, CRLA will sponsor an Anti-Bullying and Hate Crimes Conference to further address these issues. Please stay tuned for more details on this Conference.

In addition, Proyecto Poderoso, a joint project of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and CRLA, seeks to build a dialogue that would help close this gap and overcome cultural barriers that prevent families from fully accepting and embracing their LGBT family members in Spanish-speaking Latino households. In partnership with San Francisco State University's Family Acceptance Project and Radio Bilingüe, CRLA is launching the on-air premiere of our radionovela series, a Spanish-language soap opera that will air on Radio Bilingüe stations across California from February 11 through March 31.

To listen to podcasts of the radionovela, visit

Hate crimes and bullying-related suicides represent the worst-case scenarios when it comes to homophobia and transphobia. With your support, CRLA will continue to raise awareness in rural California about the problem of harassment and hate crimes directed at LGBT communities and create meaningful solutions with schools, law enforcement agencies, and community based organizations.

The radionovela-"Bienvenidos a Casa"-will premiere between 6:00-7:00 p.m. on February 11, 2011 on Radio Bilingüe's "Rock-in da House." It will be broadcast a total of 10 times from February 11 through March 31 on Radio Bilingüe stations across California, and will be available at


Program Overview

California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) has joined with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) to improve legal services for low-income lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in rural California, in particular LGBT farm workers. LGBT people are becoming increasingly visible in rural California. A Williams Institute analysis revealed that about 136,000 self-identified gay, lesbian, and bisexual people reside in rural counties served by CRLA. Rural gay, lesbian, and bisexual communities reflect tremendous racial and ethnic diversity, and about one-third of the population struggles with poverty. The population suffers pervasive discrimination and higher rates of unemployment, disability and psychological stress compared to heterosexual counterparts. Though the size of the rural transgender community is still being measured, CRLA has served a growing number of transgender clients. CRLA's transgender clients often encounter the most egregious discrimination. In response to these challenges, CRLA has created Proyecto Poderoso - Project Powerful. Proyecto Poderoso is making a difference in the lives of rural LGBT people by improving access to LGBT-specific legal services, and changing for the better the way rural communities see LGBT people. California offers strong legal protections for LGBT people, but those laws will exist only in theory, unless rural, low-income LGBT people has access to affordable legal assistance with expertise in LGBT civil rights. Ultimately, Proyecto Poderoso strives for full inclusion of LGBT people in rural California communities.

Program Outcomes, Goals and Strategies

Proyecto Poderoso strives for the equality and dignity of LGBT people in rural California communities. Proyecto Poderoso accomplishes its goal of improving legal assistance for rural LGBT people through: 1) community education about LGBT civil rights, 2) training and technical assistance to increase the expertise of legal advocates in the area of LGBT civil rights, and 3) providing direct legal services to low-income LGBT people. In addition to improving legal services, Proyecto Poderoso identifies and helps cultivate emerging LGBT leaders in rural California.

To carry out the work, Proyecto Poderoso leverages the wide reach and expertise of CRLA, with its decades of experience advocating on behalf of the rural poor, and the expertise of NCLR, the preeminent national legal and policy advocacy group for LGBT people and their families.

Community Education

Educating communities is a critical component of the effort to protect LGBT civil and human rights. Proyecto Poderoso educates the rural public through media appearances, community presentations, and outreach.

Organizational Capacity Building

Proyecto Poderoso is CRLA's targeted program to build the expertise of attorneys and staff in the area of LGBT legal advocacy. Through a series of trainings supported by NCLR, CRLA attorneys and staff become informed about issues commonly affecting LGBT communities and key legal protections available to address those concerns. Ultimately, CRLA's expanded expertise will improve the organization's ability to provide legal representation to low-income LGBT individuals in rural California.

Direct Legal Services

CRLA provides legal services directly to low-income LGBT people who have legal questions, or possible claims of harassment or discrimination. Prosecuting discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity sends a clear message that LGBT rights must be respected.

Leadership Development

Proyecto Poderoso cultivates emerging, grassroots leaders in rural communities to advocate for LGBT equality. Full equality and inclusion can be achieved by raising a chorus of voices that share personal stories that generate compassion and understanding about LGBT people, and articulate legal grounds for fair treatment.

Program Staff

Attorney and Program Manager, Dan Torres
Previously, Dan worked at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center organizing LGBT immigrants, conducting Know Your Rights presentations and providing technical assistance to legal services and pro bono attorneys. He represented clients as a staff attorney at the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation in Sacramento, worked as a clinical instructor at the UC Davis School of Law Immigration Law Clinic, and served as a staff attorney for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Community Worker, Angeles Jimenez
Angeles grew up in the small town of Ayoguezco in Oaxaca, Mexico and graduated from University of California-Davis with a double major in sociology and Spanish. At UC-Davis, she worked with AFCSME to successfully pressure the university to hire more than 500 workers, and tutored middle school and high school as a member of MEChA. Additionally, Angeles interned in Chile where she worked at a health clinic for the Mapuche, Chile's indigenous people.


Proyecto Poderoso is supported in part by a grant from theThe David Bohnett Foundation


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