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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | December 17, 2007

NCLR Launches New Project Combating Discrimination against LGBT People Living in Rural California

NCLR and California Rural Legal Assistance Unite to Create Proyecto Poderoso

(San Francisco,CA, December 17, 2007) — Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) announces its partnership with California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) to expand civil rights enforcement on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Proyecto Poderoso—Powerful Project—will educate rural communities about LGBT rights and litigate cases on behalf of low-income LGBT residents of rural California.

Lisa Cisneros, a recent graduate from University of California, Berkeley, Boalt School of Law, developed the project to promote safe rural communities where LGBT people can live, work, attend school, and participate in community life free from harassment and abuse based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. After CRLA noticed an emerging trend of harassment and discrimination against LGBT agricultural workers, CRLA reached out to Cisneros and NCLR to design a project to address the needs of this community. CRLA’s community workers are already providing information and resources regarding other legal issues, including workers’ rights and healthcare, and have been working extensively with schools, clinics, and in private homes throughout rural California. According to Cisneros, the only thing missing was advocacy on behalf of LGBT people.

Proyecto Poderoso is based in my hometown, Salinas, California,” said Cisneros. “I came out as a teenager in Salinas, and I understand that one can feel isolated as an LGBT person in small town. Through Proyecto Poderoso I hope to make a positive difference in the lives of LGBT people living in rural communities, especially low-income Latinos in the Central Valley. While the limelight of public attention and services shines on places like Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, and San Francisco, I am familiar with living in a mostly ignored place, Salinas.”

Cisneros will work out of CRLA’s Salinas office. NCLR will help Cisneros educate CRLA attorneys and staff on issues affecting LGBT communities as well as the key legal protections for LGBT people in California. NCLR will also provide technical assistance in representing LGBT clients in employment, family law, public benefits, and housing discrimination cases. CRLA’s expanded expertise will improve its ability to provide legal representation to low-income LGBT individuals in rural California.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

California Rural Legal Assistance
Since 1965 California Rural Legal Assistance has advocated on behalf of the state's farmworkers and rural poor. CRLA provides direct legal services, community education, and advocacy. There are 21 CRLA offices from Marysville in Northern California to El Centro on the US-Mexican border. For more information, please visit


media contacts:

Erik Olvera
Director of Communications
National Center for Lesbian Rights
office: 415.392.6257 x324

Bethany Woolman
Communications Associate
National Center for Lesbian Rights
office: 415.392.6257 x305

Lisa Cisneros
Pride Law Fellow
(831) 757-5221 x305


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