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Bills, Bills, Bills. California Lawmakers Rushing To Pass Bills Before Friday’s Deadline.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom, on Monday, signed two bills aimed at cracking down on doctors who write fraudulent medical exemptions for kids vaccines. Asm. Todd Gloria, D-San Diego, rolled out a last minute bill that aims to end a labor dispute over San Diego’s long-delayed Pure Water project. Asm. Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, AB5 seeks to make it harder for companies to classify employees as independent contractors, will that help or hurt gig workers? Plus, some San Diego college students and educators are getting free immigration legal services. And, “Kiss My Aztec!,” a new musical by actor John Leguizamo at the La Jolla Playhouse, uses humor to unpack the difficult period when Spaniards invaded the Aztec Empire in the 16th century. Also, despite protests from conservative groups, Chula Vista is moving forward with plans to host Drag Queen Story Hour on Tuesday.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 Yesterday and governor Gavin Newsome signed a pair of bills cracking down on fraudulent medical exemptions for school children's vaccinations. The new law was signed as anti-vaccine advocates swarmed the Capitol

Speaker 2: 00:20 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 00:21 state Capitol reporter for KQ e d Katie or was there at the Capitol and joined us with details about what this new law means. Katie, welcome. Thanks for having me. So what was the scene like at the Capitol yesterday? Well, you know, jade, I've been up here for Gosh, going on over six years and I honestly have never seen anything like that. Um, I've never seen sessions be shut down by protestors like that. Um, for about two hours they successfully shut down the Senate and the assembly. Um, and that was after they had blocked doors to the capitol. They filled the hallways in front of the governor's office. At one point they were blocking the front door to his office to try and get their point across. Um, it was a very tense day for a lot of people. And remind us why there is so much controversy surrounding these vaccinations.

Speaker 1: 01:11 Well, these two bills, as you mentioned, would limit medical exemptions for vaccines. Basically giving the state more oversight into whether or not these exemptions are approved. And that's something these protesters very strongly oppose. Um, they don't believe the state should one man mandate that their kids get vaccinated. And two, they are worried that these um, new rules will, might get increasingly hard or almost impossible to get a medical exemption for a vaccine. And so, you know, even though surveys show the vast majority of California in support mandatory vaccinations for school kids, this group came out and they're very, very vocal in their opposition and the governor signed two different bills to crack down on doctors who write these medical exemptions for school children's vaccinations. Remind us why there were two bills. Sure. And this is was another unusual aspect to this whole saga. The original bill was SB two 76, and that mandates among other things that doctors who write more than a five medical exemptions a year, a have those exemptions then reviewed and schools with an overall immunization rate of less than 95% exemptions for those schools would be reviewed as well.

Speaker 1: 02:33 So last week the bill had, uh, had one of its final votes in the state assembly and after that vote was taken and the bill passed, Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted that he wanted to see changes. And that was complicated because the legislature was running out of time. Their last day in session is this Friday. And as it was noted before, the bill had already been amended to reflect some of the changes that the governor wanted. So it was incredibly rare to see the governor do this so late in the process. But the end result of that was SB seven 14, which basically says the clock on the five exemption count for doctors won't start until 20, 20. And it allows some kids with exemptions, a grace period to keep those exemptions. If they don't expire until they switch to another, they call it grade span. So if you're in kindergarten and you have a permanent exemption, it can stay til you go into seventh grade.

Speaker 1: 03:34 Seventh through high school is another span. So those were some of the compromises that they made with the governor. But again, it was just very unusual to see him calling for changes so late in the game. Anyway. Yeah, a lot has gone into, um, this legislation. Can you tell me why lawmakers think it is so important to take these measures? Well, of course we've seen measles outbreaks around the country, um, coming back measles of course, of a disease that we have a vaccine for. And at one point it was, you know, extremely rare. Now it's making a resurgence. Um, and this bill also coincides with the state's elimination of the personal belief exemption in 2015 that became a law that you can't just sign a form saying, you know, I, uh, I oppose vaccines for this, you know, my own personal beliefs. And that was okay in 2015 it became, you need a medical exemption if you don't want your kid to be vaccinated.

Speaker 1: 04:32 But then there were stories of doctors around the state essentially selling medical vaccine, fact seen exemptions to families. And this bill is meant to crack down on that so that people getting a medical exemption are those that truly need it. And while this legislation was being debated, did anyone come to the floor and present evidence that suggest, um, some of these vaccine exemptions are medically needed. Doctors acknowledged, you know, there's some risk with everything that you do. Um, and they're not 100% vaccines are not 100%, but they overall are better for the community. And your odds of getting sick from a vaccine are less than your odds of getting a disease like measles, which could kill you. So I think it's really the, the view in the, in the legislature essentially, especially among Democrats, seems to be like the science settled, uh, vaccines work. And we as a state government are going to do what we can to make sure as many kids get them as possible. I've been speaking to state capitol reporter Katie or with KQ e D Katie. Thank you very much. You're welcome.

Speaker 3: 05:49 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 The pure water reclamation project has been touted as a crucial part of San Diego's water security and environmental future. But over the past months, a lawsuit has stopped the project in its tracks in June, a contractors group one and initial court battle over a part of the pure water contract seen as friendly to labor unions with the threat of a drawn out legal battle in site assembly. Men, Todd, Gloria has maneuvered a last minute bill in Sacramento to allow union friendly terms for the project. If the bill is passed and signed, it could have far reaching consequences for other construction projects. Joining me by Skype is Rye Revard who covers water issues and the environment at Voice of San Diego and Rye. Welcome to the program. Thanks for having me. What is this contractors lawsuit all about?

Speaker 2: 00:49 So back in 2012 a city voters passed proposition a which said that, um, the city shouldn't give preference to union workers when it's doing city work. Um, and that's been a source of tension for years. And the contractors said, hey, when the city went to build this pure water project, there were some contracts that really did seem to give preference to union workers and so sued

Speaker 1: 01:17 the city though they argue that prop a doesn't apply to the pure water project. Why is that?

Speaker 2: 01:23 Yeah, so they're, they're cases that proposition a was designed so that if there was a requirement that the city had when accepting state or federal money, because often that money comes with strings attached, that that is labor friendly for labor friendly work. That if the city is taking money from the state or federal government for contracts that require union friendly contracts, the city can't, you know, attempt to exclude union workers. And so there was a dispute over that a judge ultimately said in the case of the pure water contract, at least when he heard the case that the state hadn't required union friendly contracting terms and Gloria's bill would make clear that, hey, you know, this money comes with a string attached and that string includes, you know, hire some union workers on this thing.

Speaker 1: 02:09 Okay. So how has this legal challenge affected the project? What's supposed to be happening that's not happening?

Speaker 2: 02:16 Well, uh, you know, the city was, uh, there were about 11 contracts, um, that the city was looking to sign and, and, and for 11 different parts of this project, this is a one point $6 billion project and that's only the first phase of what will eventually be a three or $4 billion project under some estimates. And so the city had been hoping to get started on all these different elements of the project and um, uh, when this judge sided with the contractors, the city just sort of halted work on almost everything effectively halted work on almost everything.

Speaker 1: 02:48 Assemblyman Todd, Gloria's last minute bill is now up for a vote in the Senate. What would it do?

Speaker 2: 02:54 It would make clear that a huge chunk of this, uh, pure project, this water recycling project, like a fourth of it is, um, state money. And so his, uh, bill would make clear that if the city wants to accept this money from the state, that money needs to be spent on, uh, on projects that are friendly to union workers. And so the city is obviously, uh, oh be almost certain to accept that because if they don't take that 400 million from the state, that's 400 million more that city taxpayers have to pay.

Speaker 1: 03:28 There is a deadline this Friday for all bills to get passed by the legislature. If Todd Gloria's bill makes it to the governor's desk, could it affect other construction projects besides pure water

Speaker 2: 03:40 and paper? It doesn't have a obvious and immediate effect on other projects, but if you look at this in the context of some other things that are going on, for instance, the port of San Diego, um, adopted some, a new policy back in January that said, we prefer contractors that, um, don't have a history of doing battle with Labor. We think that if, um, organized labor is on board with the project, it's more likely to get built. So if you look at that and if you look at the Gloria Bill and then if you look at a battle that's going on today and this week between organized labor and um, the city effectively over how many local jobs there will be when the city decides to start its own agency to buy and sell electricity, I think we're going to see a sort of new era of organized labor. You know, trying to get jobs because they're going to be a lot of jobs. Um, I think there are some contracting groups that believe it's a zero sum game and there are others that are trying not to do too much battle with organized labor cause they think there's going to be enough jobs to go around

Speaker 1: 04:45 the group that sued the Associated General Contractors. Have they responded to Gloria's bill at all?

Speaker 2: 04:50 One of their sort of allies. This Guy Eric Christianson, who's done a lot of battles with unions over the years. He was clear he wasn't speaking for the associates associated general contractors, but he said, well, if this is, this is the, you know, unions tools in Sacramento doing their bidding for them, uh, overturning the will of the voters, um, that that's their, that's their position.

Speaker 1: 05:10 Just overall, can you remind us what this pure water project means for the regions water supply? Yeah, it's huge. Huge.

Speaker 2: 05:19 Um, so right now most of our water comes from, uh, far away, hundreds of miles away. The Colorado River or the rivers of northern California. Um, we get very little rainfall as anybody knows. And um, you know, there's a salination plant that provides about 10% of our supply, but you know, in the event of an earthquake or a major drought, we are in trouble. So what this would do is allow us to recycle the water that we've already brought into the area. Right now it's wastewater that's treated and then dumped into the ocean. This would treat wastewater much more highly, make it drinkable, and eventually a third of the city's water supply would come from recycled waste water. And since some of these delays have already happened, they're already history. Does this mean the overall cost of the project and the cost to taxpayers is going up?

Speaker 2: 06:07 This is something that people who have been objecting to the contractor's lawsuit have raised. The project costs are going up millions of dollars in $1 billion plus contract. I think the, the delays so far have been relatively minor. Um, but there are other issues. There are steel tariffs, there arrives rising labor costs. There are, you know, regulatory expenses, I think in, you know, unless this delay drags out for a much longer time, I don't think this is going to be much of a cost add. I've been speaking with the voice of San Diego, reporter Rye, Revard and Rye. Thanks for your time. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 3: 06:47 No, you.

Speaker 1: 00:00 Uber, Lyft, doordash, airbnb. They're among the biggest names in the gig economy and all California originals. These on demand services depend on people who are willing to work a Gig, be it host driver or courier, but it turns out that business backbone runs contrary to state law as part of our California dream collaboration capital public radio's Randall white explains the industry disruption that may lie ahead

Speaker 2: 00:31 about a mile from the terminals at Sacramento International Airport is a waiting zone. It's the cell phone lot. We're dozens of Uber and Lyft drivers wait their turn to get a passenger request. I am one to five which means I've seen in about 15 minutes I'll be getting a ride. Sandy minor is 45 minutes into her weight, checking the incoming flight list against her position in the queue a bit more time and her right is there two cars over as Jeff Perry. He's a half hour in and still has about 50 drivers in front of him. Sometimes it's quick. Sometimes we're right now this happens to be a busy time of night, right? A lot of flights are coming in between eight and 10. Both Perry and minor work as independent contractors for both rideshare companies. This means they can work wherever and whenever they want, but it also means they don't receive any of the benefits like vacation time, overtime and medical coverage that state law mandates for a worker who is considered an employee.

Speaker 2: 01:31 The ride share companies maintain the majority of their workers have full time jobs elsewhere where they get their benefits and prefer the flexibility for making an extra buck, but Perry sees it differently like I don't deserve a fair wage because another guy pays me a fair wage and then in my time off you should be able to cheat me or something. I don't understand that. A recent California Supreme Court decision called dynamics sides with Perry saying these drivers are employees based on a three part a, B, c test with be being the big one. That's exactly right. I mean the B is the one that's giving everyone consternation. Los Angeles Attorney Timothy Kim works for a firm that represents gig economy companies. He says the be test requires the person's work to be outside the normal business activities of the hiring company. For example, if a pizza shop hires somebody to clean the windows, that person could be an independent contractor, but if it hire someone to make pizzas, that person would have to be an employee.

Speaker 2: 02:32 Businesses throughout California, not just the GIG economy. Players will be affected in some way by this test because almost every large company uses independent contractors to some extent and now assembly bill five a bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales hopes to take that test and bake it into California law. She says this will level the playing field. A lot of people are getting rich and it's not the workers and it's at the cost of the taxpayers. Ab five limits who will be effected by carving out professions that can remain as independent contractors including emergency room doctors, realtors and insurance brokers. Other exemptions are still being decided but it's unlikely the gig companies will be among them. Instead, Uber, Lyft and door dash are lobbying for a new category of worker that falls between contractor and employee, possibly bringing that issue to voters at the ballot box. All eyes are on California right now to see how this shakes itself out.

Speaker 2: 03:31 Jared [inaudible] works for a libertarian think tank in Washington d c he says, a compromise to include this new worker category could set California apart as a nationwide model, but as currently written, d release says ab five could cost the business sector as much as $6 billion annually. And so if a broad swath of California's workforce was moved over to become employees instead of contractors, I would have a lot of costs back to Jeff Perry, the Uber driver at Sacramento International. About two and a half hours after first arriving at the lot. He's dropping off his passenger and got word from the company about his earnings for the ride. $12 14 cents.

Speaker 3: 04:13 I can't just sign on for an hour and go make money. This is not possible. Any driver who's been doing this for a while knows that

Speaker 2: 04:23 lobbying interests from all sides have descended upon Sacramento is ab five makes its way from committees to votes by the full senate Randall white cap radio news.

Speaker 1: 00:00 There's a new effort to help San Diego college students and faculty members who have immigration concerns. Jewish family service of San Diego was providing no cost legal services for San Diego State University and CSU San Marcos KPBS evening edition Anchor Ebony Monet spoke with Hiero Castro. Anita, the attorney leading the program. She started by asking him about the service. JFS is providing

Speaker 2: 00:27 these services range from initial consultation to figuring out where it is that I might fall in the immigration spectrum to DACA renewals to individuals who might be going through a family petition process, ultimately up to naturalization. Why now? Why not? This is a great opportunity. This is a great time. Um, it's a challenging time in the u s home, but JFS has always stepped into opportunities like this. And again, going back to our mission and wanting to help and a holistic approach. And so this is a great opportunity, a great time to step into a place where we see a need and to be able to connect with another aspect of our larger San Diego community.

Speaker 1: 01:13 And why is Jewish family service of San Diego uniquely positioned to provide these services? Because at first thought you might think that it would be a big law firm providing these no-cost services. But um, y JFS,

Speaker 2: 01:28 JFS does so many things and we have so many different programs that I mentioned, just a few of them a little bit ago. Eh, there's even more that I don't know, but this is why this is such a great partnership because we're not a big law firm because we understand that there are so many different aspects and components to the wellness of an individual. An additional immigration services component is, is key and it's a great partnership and it's a great mesh to move forward with our goals as an organization within the community and connect with students.

Speaker 1: 02:01 And do you imagine, um, we're just coming off of summer break. Do you imagine you'll be busy?

Speaker 2: 02:07 We do. We do. And so we're preparing for that. We've been preparing for that. We've had conversations with key stakeholders at the different campuses within our office internally, Eh, and so that process has been ongoing. It's something that we're constantly working towards. And as classes begin, we've already had consultations, we've already had students schedule appointments, staff schedule appointments. And so we're excited to see this flourish into an even bigger, uh, program.

Speaker 1: 02:35 Some students are just finding out their immigration status based upon applying for college. Could you talk about that connection and how that happens?

Speaker 2: 02:43 Some of these students for the first time are learning of their immigration status and it's something that maybe wasn't talked with, um, with parents and so their world stops and they don't know necessarily what next steps to take. And again, this is why this partnership with the CSU system and JFS is so crucial because those individuals need that assistance and need that support and need that guidance.

Speaker 1: 03:08 Is that a difficult time for immigration law here in this country with so many changes to policies and rules and

Speaker 2: 03:17 new guidelines? Immigration law is conservative, one of the most challenging areas of lots of practice, especially now because things are constantly changing. And so we have to be up to date, um, on a daily basis. If not, um, anything sooner because policies are, are being implemented and overnight something might change. So being aware of that is important. And then providing that information back to the community that we serve is a huge component of it. Thank you so much. Thank you.

Speaker 1: 03:48 That was hydro cas, an attorney with Jewish family service of San Diego. He was speaking to evening edition Anchor Ebony Monet.

Speaker 3: 04:00 Uh.

Speaker 1: 00:00 There is a new musical hitting the stage of the La Jolla playhouse called kiss my Aztec with humor. This production impacts the difficult time period when Europeans invaded the Aztec Empire. John Leguizamo co-wrote the musical with Tony Tacony. I sat down with John at the La Jolla playhouse. So the musical follows a group of Aztecs and leading the resistance against the Spanish invaders in the 16th century. Tell us about the characters in the group of Aztecs. Well the, the, the whole piece is about conquest and how do you make the conquest as funny as possible. So that, that was the premise. And, and th the, the humor that we found was in these rebels wanting to free themselves from Monday, European rule at the time, you know, where they were, they were being conquested and used as slaves and, and to mind gold and all this stuff. And then now I'm mining it for humor.

Speaker 1: 00:51 How do I make this accessible to people? So we're, we're in that world of a book of Mormon, you know, really Raunchy, really low brow, but at the same time, really high brow, cause we were talking about 16 hundreds and I created kind of um, kind of a, a ghetto patois. So the speaking of Elizabethan with ghetto slang at the same time. So it's like an interesting Combo, you know, I always feel like any good comedian can always bring a message through their comedy. Right. And it's a real craft. It's an art. Tell me about that. Yeah, I think the best way to get information out is to smuggle it in a joke. I think it's the best way to get people to, to want to listen to things that they don't really want to listen to. Is it game of seduction, you know, how close to the actual history did you stay in the telling of this story?

Speaker 1: 01:40 I tried, I tried to stay as accurate as I could, you know what I mean? In terms of what was going on in that period in terms of a viceroy reality and enslavement and, and all that. And then obviously we took license cause it's, it's, it's a hero. Hilarious spoof. So, you know, I'm just, I'm just gonna go for every joke and every low brow thing I can. And so why was it important to bring this to the stage? Because we're, we're is all our Latin product. I love Latin stories out Latin history. I mean it's just not anywhere. And you know, I'm going to start with the Aztecs and hopefully maybe didn't want an Incas and Mayans and we have such a rich wealth of history in American, in the world. I mean it just, it just been missing it forever and I'm kind of tired of that.

Speaker 1: 02:25 And what, and you're not, I want to talk to me about that. You're tired of it. Like do you hope that people see this play walk away and that maybe there's some legislative push to have this, I'm taught in school curriculums. I mean, what do you hope? What's the end game? Well, the, the end game is for people to see, Oh wow, Latin culture is hot. You know, it, it's something that we can all relate to and all enjoy because Latin history is American history for the most part anyway. Um, more with, with like Latin history for morons is where I really expect more legislative changes in schools include inclusion of Latin history in textbooks, curriculums, syllabuses, uh, just like, you know, when, when I found out that we're almost 20% of the population and, and almost 22% of our kids are dropping out. I, I believe it's because they can't relate. I mean, I felt that way growing up. I mean, there was no Latin people in the literature class or in history or mat anywhere. Joining me now is Tony Tacony. He covered the musical with John Leguizamo and directs the musical. He joins me now via Skype. Tony, welcome. Thank you so much, Jay. Hey, we heard John Leguizamo talking about creating a dialogue, uh, that is, uh, Elizabethan with some, uh, some ghetto slang as director of the musical, tell us what it's been like to direct your actors in this dialogue.

Speaker 2: 03:53 Well, you have to have people who are very facile with language. That's, that's a given. You can't have somebody who doesn't have the aptitude and, and the intelligence to sort of, you know, understand what the language is trying to do and to own it and to embrace it and to sort of express it with like a lot of verb. Uh, one thing I just want to say is it's not like something you can't understand. I'm not making this some sort of, you know, Arcane, you know, weird dialect that's impossible to sort of really hear. It's very easy on the ears. But one thing it does though it, it, it lifts, it lifts the comedy into a little bit of a different kind of atmosphere. It makes you listen in a bit of a new way. It's also funny if that's the whole point is it's, it's trying to place you in period. Like, so you're watching a quote unquote period piece, but you're super aware that you're hearing now

Speaker 1: 04:47 [inaudible] and there's a wide range of music that's part of the piece. Talk to us about that.

Speaker 2: 04:51 Oh yeah. It's a really a mixed tape kind of approaches. It's a, it's a sort of a beautiful, like our culture. I mean, our culture is, is, uh, is a wonderful celebration of every kind of polyglot and culture out there. And so we've decided to sort of, you know, embrace that. And, uh, and so it moves from everything from Madang in salsa, you know, to Gospel Music, you know, uh, to rock and roll to at [inaudible]. There's just a lot of different kinds of music up there.

Speaker 1: 05:21 And Tony, what do you hope audiences take away from this musical?

Speaker 2: 05:24 Cool. I hope they feel some joy. I hope to feel some, some hope. I mean, this is, we live, you know, we're living in times where we're kind of bombarded with a lot of darkness and I feel like we need to, you know, empower ourselves and, and, and remember the, our capacity as, as human beings to both, uh, enjoy life, celebrate life, change our lives and make it better.

Speaker 1: 05:47 I've been speaking to Tony, two county, the director and co-writer of kiss my ass tech. Thank you so much Tony. Sure a question. Thank you. Kiss. My ass tech runs through October 13th

Speaker 3: 05:58 at the La Jolla playhouse.

Speaker 4: 06:16 [inaudible]

Speaker 3: 06:22 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 This afternoon. The Chula Vista Library will host an event that's become the focal point of protests in the community. Kids and parents will assemble for a drag queen. Story time events featuring drag queen performers reading a children's story times have been happening across the country. The idea is to let kids see and interact with different kinds of people and encourage a diverse community, but this story time is facing protests in the South Bay. Joining me are Rocca Lita. Hello, Hi and BBQ. Hey, two drag queens who will be reading to children this afternoon at the Civic Center Library in Chula Vista. Recollect the, let me start with you and today's story time in Chula Vista. Is that the first you've taken part in? Yes. This will be my first time participating in drag Queen Story time and I'm very excited. What are your planning for today's story time

Speaker 2: 00:56 barbecue and I will be reading two different books to the children and we'll be doing two lip sync performances.

Speaker 1: 01:04 Do the books that you choose to read also reflect diversity [inaudible]?

Speaker 2: 01:09 I believe they do because I'm, and some of the books that we were looking at, there's also, uh, themes that explore, uh, mixed race families, uh, and even diverse families. Uh, so I believe it, it touches on like different subjects. Uh, there's one book that even has like a Spanish words in it, so it's bilingual

Speaker 1: 01:31 [inaudible] barbecue. Why did you decide to get involved with this storytime program?

Speaker 3: 01:36 Well, I was really excited to get involved because I ate, kind of brings together a lot of my strengths in like life. You know, I really love the art of drag and I am also an educator. So this, uh, event was a w helped me bring together my strength as an educator and as somebody who, you know, loves drag and to be able to, uh, outreach to my community and hopefully inspire through this event is like really exciting for me.

Speaker 1: 02:04 Broccoli does the same question to you.

Speaker 2: 02:07 So for me it's, it's also about giving back to my community and also sharing my art and love for art. Uh, and in drag for me has really allowed me to heal and to really affirm my identity as a member from the LGBT community. And, uh, in my experience as a, also as an educator, I feel like it's, it's, there's something powerful about really, uh, embracing who you are and, and letting that sort of inspire other, uh, other youth. And so for us, uh, we've been performing outside of the bars, uh, for some time now and we've, we do a lot of community events where we get to perform in front of families and really expose the art of drag, uh, to, to them. And normally they wouldn't have access to that. So it's really unique for us to be able to have these sort of interactions. And it's been really lovely to see how the children respond to it. I mean, in the last couple of performances, like we'll have children coming up to us and in the middle of our performances and dance with us. So that's, that's really amazing for us to be able to see that, you know, we're helping to normalize, drag and normalize one part of our LGBT community, to, uh, to families and especially diverse families like Latino families. You said something

Speaker 3: 03:23 very interesting while you both have, but rapidly do, you said that this was a healing process. Drag had been a healing process for you, and I don't think a lot of people really understand that. Can you describe that a little bit more?

Speaker 2: 03:37 Yeah. So, um, growing up I've always been an artist. I've always been into like painting and drawing. And my last year of my undergraduate, uh, experience, I was actually diagnosed with a, uh, health condition. And so while I was in recovery from, uh, having a couple of surgeries, um, I was actually back in my hometown of San Diego and I was sort of just, you know, resting and trying to figure out my next steps for my career. And I was sort of looking into, um, just the creating art and I was really obsessed with Rupaul's drag race. Uh, so I started to kind of, um, you know, attend some of the local art show, um, drag shows and, and just kind of get a feel for what it looks like and I'd be friended, you know, some of the local drag queens and kind of, uh, started to create my own community, uh, within the drag scene.

Speaker 2: 04:29 And, uh, I learned about all the tricks and the makeup and making costumes and how to perform. And, um, throughout that process it really helped me heal, uh, you know, emotionally it, it kinda created a support system for me. Uh, but more than anything, I, I'm a firm believer that art heals, um, any sort of art. And that's, that's really what allowed me to kind of push forward and, and kind of motivated me to kind of look, look, look into the future about sort of the, the plants that I have for myself and the things that I wanted to create. Now Barbecue, the story hour is being criticized by a number of residents in some churches in the South Bay. What's your reaction to this? Controversial.

Speaker 3: 05:13 I, to me it's, it's sort of shocking in a sense. Um, you know, like, uh, growing up in San Diego, you know, I, I did experience a lot of these reactions in regards to, you know, like queer folk, right? And so for me it's shocking though to see how people are still misinformed. People aren't able to see like, uh, drag queens beyond these terms of like sex and sexuality. Um, when reality drag is an art, you know, and really the main purpose of the event is just to promote literacy in a community that really does need us as adults to promote literacy and to like outreach and volunteer. And I, to me, it's shocking that people can miss lead an event

Speaker 1: 05:57 that's the most promote literacy and education and make it into something that's, you know, make it seem like it's going to be something that's vulgar, you know, when it's adults, you know, coming back to their community and serving, you know, the youth, what would you say rec leader to parents who, who want to be open to this event but who have reservations about men dressed and made up as women reading two very young children.

Speaker 2: 06:25 Um, [inaudible] the, what I think is a, the most important thing for parents, you know, is that, you know, we as educators like we work and have a lot of experience working with youth. Um, you know, especially for us, like we work in a k through 12 school, so we have a lot of experience working with, uh, all sorts of, uh, students from different ages. So for us, we have that in mind and we know who our audiences, um, and we're just using our, our characters, uh, to create a different type of learning environment. Um, and, and it's not so different from having, you know, uh, other characters like, you know, I can think of like Disney characters or, uh, or, or artists, right, who were just entertaining, uh, children.

Speaker 1: 07:11 What are you hoping BBQ that the kids take away from today's event? I think they're really exposed to culture. I think there'll be exposed to a literacy program that will leave them thinking about the themes of love, acceptance, and um, you know, just being happy. Are you at all concerned about your safety in participating in this event, considering that it got so much pushback? [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 07:42 um, I think, uh, for me, I, there's a lot of emotions going on, but most importantly I feel there's a lot of love and support that has been, you know, coming our way and, and I feel that that's what's allowed us to remain focused and to really, uh, make us feel empowered. Uh, you know, it's, it's almost like our responsibility s a s a as LGBT, uh, people like, uh, it's, it's for, for me at least, it's about being able to set a precedent, you know, especially as for the South Bay community that doesn't have a lot of spaces, uh, for LGBT people. Uh, and, and hopefully it inspires other people to become involved. Uh, whether they're in the LGBT community or s allies or supporters to the community. I really hope that it just inspires people to, to be members, uh, that can help in solidarity with other communities that are different from theirs.

Speaker 1: 08:39 I have been speaking with Rocca Lita and BBQ two drag queens, so will be reading to children this afternoon at the Civic Center Library in Chula Vista. I want to thank you both so much for coming in and speaking with us. Thank you so much. A pleasure. Thank you. Yes. We reached to the group mass resistance, which is spearheading efforts to cancel the drag Queen Story Hour. They gave us a statement which says in part drag queen story hour is nothing more than a perverse attempt to teach falsehoods. About sex and gender to children, rather than teaching about diversity, inclusion, and acceptance. The city, the library and the LGBT groups in the city fought to silence, marginalized and exclude the most important voices in this whole conflict. The parents and their children.

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KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.