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To: LA's BEST Afterschool Enrichment Program
Justice 4 Edwin Medina
Edwin Medina has dedicated 16 years of service to the LA's BEST Afterschool enrichment Program. He was recently (June 12-June 23) fired from his most recent position as Traveling Program Supervisor for dressing in drag (Bad Bunny "Yo Perreo Sola" during a celebrity-look-alike themed meeting via Zoom with his team of program staff. Despite the recent ruling by the Supreme Court, program "values", and district policies, Edwin was unjustly fired for freely expressing himself. For mor information on our demand for Justice for Edwin, please continue reading below. In this time of injustices and uncertainties, your time, consideration, and support are greatly appreciated. Thank you!
First and foremost, we demand immediate and comprehensive Diversity, Equity, and Belonging training.
Second, we demand an appropriate response to the original complaint that honors our “shared” values of curiosity, relationships, choice, and expression. We demand accountability for the individual who weaponized their “discomfort” and for the individuals who weaponized their positions of power to terminate our boss.
Third, we demand LA’s BEST invite Edwin Medina to resume his excellent work with LA’s BEST. He should have never been terminated from in the first place, so we suggest he be promoted to a position equal to that of the folks who made the decision to terminate him. Clearly, LA's BEST could use an example of how to lead a diverse staff and cultivate belonging through relationship-building; Edwin Medina is the man for the job.
Why is this important?
We are outraged over LA’s BEST’s decision to embolden bigotry and terminate Edwin Medina’s employment after 16 years of dedicated service. LA’s BEST fired an exceptional leader because he dressed in drag to our end-of-year Zoom costume meeting on June 12. Edwin’s termination completely contradicts OUR organizations’ values of “sparking curiosity, expanding horizons, and strengthening relationships”. This is especially unacceptable and inexcusable given the context: It is Pride month, and we are in the middle of a new wave of the Civil Rights movement. We have suffered loss, financial stress, and social isolation due to COVID19. LA’s BEST is in the middle of a budget crisis and making cuts where you can to the detriment of our organization’s values and mission.
Pride, Drag, & Bad Bunny
It was a “meaningful choice” for Edwin to show his PRIDE, especially when LA’s BEST has been startingly quiet on the social issues of the moment. Edwin dressed up in drag as Bad Bunny in “Yo Perreo Sola”. This music video was released March 27, and featured Bad Bunny in drag. Billboard describes the music video, and Bad Bunny’s drag, as “visually eye-opening (and) conscientious, talking about respect for women and highlighting the LGBTQ+ community, a departure for Latin urban music”.
By removing one word from LA’s BEST’s BLM statement, the hypocrisy becomes clear: “Through our afterschool enrichment program, we strive to combat the disparities created by oppressive and systemic … inequities and work to prepare our students and staff to become changemakers in our communities. We are all deeply connected to each other, and we remain committed to strengthening those connections through compassionate, positive youth development.”
That starts with how you treat your employees. “Drag” is borderline synonymous with “queer”, and we regret that our unnamed colleague and LA’s BEST decided to punish Edwin’s personal expression with termination. During this historical moment, the Supreme Court has ruled that an employer cannot fire someone for being homosexual or transgender. Gender identity and expression should now be protected in the workplace. Edwin Medina should not have been terminated.
Edwin was a stellar leader at LA’s BEST. He did much of the “dirty work” during the COVID19 crisis, discussing budget cuts with us, giving reassurance, and helping us navigate the shift to distance learning. Moreover, relationships were Edwin’s specialty - with his staff and with our kids. He offered us guidance, and as his staff, we always knew we could go to Edwin. He supported us through short staffed days, taking on groups of his own. He advocated for our professional and personal development.
Edwin Medina was one of the BEST advocates and leaders among us. Edwin was comfortable being himself, and he empowered us - adults and youth - “to explore and discover the opportunities in (our) lives”. He “inspired and prepared (us) to create lives full of choices”, and you fired him for his choice to wear drag to a costume party. Unfortunately, many of us do not feel safe at LA’s BEST anymore. We believe the actions of our unnamed colleague and of LA’s BEST are rooted in ignorance and bigotry. We do not feel comfortable working in an organization that emboldens ignorance. We especially share concern for the youth we work with, many of whom are or will be members of the LGBTQ+ community. Hate and discrimination do not belong in this organization.