Every summer for over a decade the Bay Area chapter has hosted a paid intern to work on queer and LGBT issues. The internship was conceived as a permanent memorial to the work and life of Tom Steel, a former president of the San Francisco Bay Area Guild Chapter and National vice-president of the Guild, who died in the summer of 1998. Tom was also a founder of BALIF, which was the nation’s first lesbian & gay bar association and the NLG’s Gay Caucus, which is now called the Queer Caucus.
The Thomas Steel Internship is one of the few funded internships dealing with queer/LGBT issues for law students. During six of the twelve years of the internship, interns have worked exclusively on transgender rights issues, making it a truly unique internship in the country.
The internship was originally funded by generous donations from Patty Blum, Lynne Coffin & Alan Schlosser, Milton Estes, Linda Fullerton, Melinda Griffith, Abby Ginzberg, Thomas Meyer & Jennie Rhine, Julie Ovian & Kevin Ovian, Patti Roberts, Matthew Ross & Gloria Lawrence, Angela Steel & Ken Philpot, David Steel & Barbara Steel, Mary Steel, Michael Steel, Susie Steel & Bob Medland, and Marilyn Waller & Doron Weinberg. There is now a need to do more fundraising to ensure the internship can continue for years to come. You can help! Please make a contribution by using the button below, or by sending a check to NLGSF, 558 Capp Street, SF, CA 94110 with "Steel Internship" in the memo line.
Throughout the years of the internship, members of the Thomas Steel Committee have included Tom Steel's surviving partner Milton Estes, Mel Campagna, Lynne Coffin, Steve Collier, Claire Eustace, Linda Fullerton, Abby Ginzberg, Kyle Kitson, Karen Jo Koonan, Sharyn Leslie, Micah Ludeke, Thomas Meyer, Rob Petitpas, Patti Roberts, Matthew Ross, Will Rountree, Angela Steel, Mark Vermeulen, Carlos Villarreal, Marilyn Waller, and Doron Weinberg.
Kristina Dolgin incorporated the rights of sex workers into the project, creating a Know Your Rights Manual for Sex Workers that highlighted the rights of transgender sex workers. She also worked with the TGI Justice Project by responding to requests for legal support from people on the inside, creating a template letter database, researching legal issues, and creating an in-depth legal advocacy guide for future advocates. She also organized a major panel at the Law for the People Convention in Chicago. Presenters included Andrea Ritchie, Shira Hassan, Aziza Ahmed, and Monica Jones. They discussed legal, political and organizing strategies to challenge the laws that criminalize sex work and that serve to criminalize and incarcerate women and LGBTQ people of color. Kristina continued the critical work of keeping our other Know Your Rights materials up to date and worked on articles for Guild Notes and the Guild Review.
During a summer of widespread evictions in San Francisco, Matthew Denney spent part of his internship focusing on supporting a movement to fight evictions of LGBTQ seniors from the Castro and other neighborhoods. He did this by working with the San Francisco Tenants Union and tenant attorneys, counseling tenants and writing a memo on using California's Elder Abuse Act to fight evictions. Matthew was able to meet with service providers and community activists during his internship, and he was even able to testify before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on the subject of senior evictions. He was later able to use his connections to organize a panel on housing rights and the queer community at the Guild's Progressive Lawyering Day – a day-long conference that took place at his law school, UC Hastings, in 2013. Matthew also updated our Transgender Know Your Rights manuals and wrote a scholarly article on protections for transgender individuals in employment discrimination.
Ravi Rangi, a student at Hastings College of the Law, focused his work on making legal resources more accessible. Ravi produced an online version of the Transgender Know Your Rights manuals on the NLGSF website. He also organized a CLE event, “Undoing Injustice: A New Era in the Field of Employment Discrimination” to educate lawyers and law students on employment discrimination. Ravi assisted our partner organization, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Immigration Project, with drafting asylum case summaries for Latin American asylum seekers and conducting research on the area’s conditions.
Prerna Lal, a law student at George Washington University, continued the work of previous interns on transgender know your rights materials, but also began a focus on immigration issues. She expanded the manual on immigration and organized an MCLE focused on immigration and LGBT issues.
An immigrant herself, Prerna had personal motivation for work she did with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). At NCLR Prerna worked on researching country conditions for LGBT asylum-seekers and condensing gut-wrenching testimonials into brief statements for clients.
Micah Ludeke, a student at Hamline University School of Law, was the first to return to the internship for a second summer. Like Alicia Virani, he worked part-time with the TGI Project and part time with the SFNLG. His project included writing a law review article for Guild Notes, updating the above-mentioned memo written by Virani, and organizing two MCLEs dealing with transgender issues. One MCLE offered an Ethics credit and the other offered an Elimination of Bias credit, both of which are in demand for fulfilling California bar requirements. He also expanded upon the transgender Know Your Rights manuals and created a "toolkit" for legal activists in other communities to reproduce them.
Alicia Virani worked half-time at the NLGSF office and half-time at the Trangender, Gender Variant and Intersex (TGI) Justice Project (TGI Project). Alicia authored a memo on potential constitutional challenges to an Oakland ordinance dealing with loitering and prostitution. Building on the work of previous intern, Becky Straus, Alicia worked with Prerna Lal (then an undergrad) to publish Know Your Rights training manuals. Alicia also developed trainings and hosted a “train the trainers” session for several NLGSF members, so that these members would be able to train transgender-related service providers.
Becky Straus collaborated with the Transgender Law Center, The Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the TGI Justice Project, among other organizations in order to compile “Know Your Rights” fact sheets for the transgender community and to find out the gaps in the work already done by those organizations. Becky expanded on that work to draft Know Your Rights training manuals on the topics of housing law, employment law, criminal law, and immigration law.
Stephanie Leroux worked at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) on its youth project. The beginning of her internship began with several days of training about the current status of legal rights for LGBT people in the country. As part of that project, Stephanie helped create Know Your Rights brochures for LGBT youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice settings. She also spent much of her time answering phone calls and email messages from LGBT persons across the nation.
Paul Hogarth worked at Equality California, a California LGBT civil rights organization for his project. Paul worked at a critical time for the organization, when EQCA worked tirelessly to pass marriage equality legislation in the California state legislature – the first time in U.S. history when a legislative body voted to grant marriage rights to same-sex couples. Paul helped draft fact sheets on the legislation, wrote op-ed pieces for the organization and organized constituent lobbying meetings with various "swing" legislators in their districts. After the legislature adjourned for the summer recess, Paul worked with partners at the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force to assemble a marriage equality activist training summit in Fresno for Equality California's Central Valley chapter leaders.
Kyle Kitson worked at Equality California, a California LGBT civil rights organization for his project. In that position, Kyle analyzed policy and case law for various state legislative initiatives and drafted press releases and website material. Kyle also spent a large part of his time developing grassroots support, the Equality California website, and a strategy timeline for a statewide transgender policy coalition.
Krista Glaser worked at Equality California in the era of domestic partnership legislation. While at Equality California, she researched current domestic partner laws and future legislative goals. Krista also composed articles, columns, and press releases for media throughout California. She had the opportunity to represent the organization at a Freedom to Marry Coalition meeting, San Francisco Pride festivities and a local city council meeting. Krista was supervised by Toni Broaddus and gained a lifelong mentor through the experience, as well as a greater understanding of the needs of LGBT Californians seeking equal rights.
Intern Murray Scheel (2001) and Intern Claire Eustace (2002) co-authored “Protocols for the Treatment of Transgender Persons by San Francisco County Jail” during their internships placed at the San Francisco Human Rights Commission (SFHRC). The SFHRC had received numerous complaints of violations of the San Francisco nondiscrimination ordinance by transgender persons who had been imprisoned at the San Francisco County Jail. Murray met with several transgender rights organizations and completed the first draft of the protocols. Claire completed the document and facilitated a meeting between then-Deputy Sheriff Jan Dempsey, the NLGSF Tom Steel Committee, and the SFHRC to discuss the adoption of the protocols by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department. Several organizations across the country have reviewed the model protocols as part of their transgender advocacy efforts.