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May 15, 2018 > BART commitment to equality recognized

BART commitment to equality recognized

Submitted By Melissa Jordan

BART received an Equality Trailblazer award on May 12 from Equality California in recognition of the agency?s inclusion of the LGBTQ community. The award is especially meaningful to employees like Paula Fraser and Karen Goetz, two of BART?s original trailblazers. They were part of an early working group of LGBTQ employees who fought to win benefits for same-sex partners in the aftermath of the AIDS epidemic that ravaged San Francisco and inflamed homophobia even in the progressive bastion of the Bay Area.

?It was a bold, inclusive move by BART,? Fraser recalled of the benefits that were ultimately provided starting in 1994, with BART just the second transit agency in the nation to do so. ?It was the first time many BART workers were out publicly, speaking for their rights.? Fraser joined BART in 1980 and has worked as a train operator, tower foreworker, train controller, manager of Operations Control Center, and line manager; now she is an Assistant Chief Transportation Officer.

Goetz likewise has had a long career at BART. She started almost 30 years ago on a building maintenance crew and is now a Senior Operations Supervisor Liaison, a job that involves linking in-house project managers, contractors and operations personnel.

?I think that today, there is an institutional acknowledgement that LBGTQ inclusion is part of BART?s makeup, and that?s a big change,? Goetz said. She said the first wave of LGBTQ employees proved their merits working side-by-side with straight people to pave the way for inclusion. ?People are most judgmental of what they know nothing about,? she said. ?That?s the importance of being out.?

Kimberly Johnson, who has been at BART 30 years, was also on that leading edge when she joined BART as a train controller. She?s now a train control instructor. ?There was already the challenge of being a young woman, and a woman of color, in an organization that was mostly middle-aged white men,? she said, adding that at first, she did not openly identify as LGBTQ. Once she came out, ?My community of coworkers was very welcoming, very cool. It?s frickin? awesome,? she said.

Marshalette Ramsey is an Operatons Control Center (OCC) manager who has been at BART for 22 years, in a career that has included train operator, operations foreworker and train controller, among other jobs. ?I can?t say that being an African American female who identifies as lesbian has been a walk in the park, but each aspect of who I am has made me resilient, empathetic and driven to succeed,? she said. ?BART has been a beacon of hope for the diversity that can exist and serve as a model of inclusion. I have experienced tremendous support and found role models to whom I can openly relate working on all levels of BART throughout my employment.?

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