Kel O’Hara

  • Hosted by Equal Rights Advocates
  • Sponsored by Intel Corporation, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP
  • Service location San Jose, California
  • Law school University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
  • Issue area LGBTQ+ Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2019
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Kel will expand support for LGBTQ student survivors of gender-based violence and harassment by bridging the gap between Title IX and queer youth justice through direct representation, outreach, and education.

Queer and trans students sit at the dangerous intersection of higher risks of gender-based violence and lower levels of institutional empathy. While the federal Educational Amendment known as Title IX requires schools to respond to allegations of sexual violence, many institutions are failing to meet their obligations under the law. This project will increase legal support for LGBTQ students in the Santa Clara Unified School District and California State University system, and create a model for Title IX legal advocacy that can be replicated at schools across the country.

Kel’s Title IX advocacy started in response to their undergraduate institution mishandling sexual violence investigations. As a queer nonbinary survivor of campus violence and a former crisis counselor, they believe that meaningful, trauma-informed school remedies can empower students who have experienced harm and create an effective alternative to the legal system.

Fellowship Plans

Kel will provide trauma-informed, culturally aware representation to LGBTQ student survivors during on-campus disciplinary proceedings in the California State University system. Additionally, Kel will collaborate with LGBTQ youth resources to conduct Know Your Rights trainings for high school students. Also, Kel will work with the Santa Clara Unified School District to review their Title IX data and create sexual violence policy recommendations, including recommendations focused on LGBTQ students. Finally, Kel will increase culturally competent legal support by developing a best practices guide for working with LGBTQ student survivors of gender violence and training pro bono attorneys on the same.

This Fellowship is a chance to be the advocate my friends and I never had.

Kel O'Hara /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

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