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Lori Vine honored with social justice award

Vine award Boil it down, and San Juan Unified’s Coordinator of Equity & Student Achievement Lori Vine only has one real goal: to give students a voice.

With student voice as goal number one, you can then start seeing the layers of Vine’s work unfold within the district’s Equity Department, particularly working with LGBTQ+ student groups. Her work includes setting a model for schools to create safe spaces and supporting Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) groups on campuses, assisting the district’s professional development for equity in schools, and helping students start a Leadership group called PRIDE PAK that hosts an annual student-led Pride conference to promote equity and safer learning environments for all diverse populations on campus.

That work, and more, made Vine a recipient of the Social Justice Award at the Sacramento State Multicultural Education Conference which “honors outstanding individuals who have embodied the values of social justice in our communities.” Vine received the award in a virtual setting on April 25. She was nominated by Dr. HyunGyung Joo, and assistant professor and program coordinator for counseling programs at Sacramento State.

“I first met Lori a few years ago at a conference. Lori participated in my roundtable session on best practices for supporting transgender students in K-12 schools. Her contribution to the roundtable discussion was very impressive. Since then, I became to learn more about her amazing work, including PRIDE PAK, Gender Support Committee, and LGBTQ Committee in San Juan Unified School District,” Joo said. “She also provided guest lectures to my counseling classes and students were very inspired by her work and passion. I am looking forward to her continuous work on creating a safe school climate and supporting students.”

Vine said her role in San Juan Unified has evolved over the years, from being a classroom teacher and parent that volunteered in district equity trainings, to leading them. A current parent in the district, Nicole Davis, now volunteers her time to help Vine.

Davis said Vine’s work had a major effect on her son, who came out as transgender prior to middle school. 

“She is so inspirational and dedicated and goes way above and beyond,” Davis said. “She made sure my son had a voice and laid it out there that he had rights and what supports the school should provide. She was an amazing support to both of us.”

With Pride PAK and other initiatives, her son “came out of his shell,” Davis said.

For Vine, the reward is simple.

”It’s a privilege to be in a position where I am able to work with young people and elevate their voices, and experiences to a point that we actually see them as a resource,” Vine said. “That's the part that's powerful. I'm really proud to work in a district that believes in calling out the importance of identity, diversity, and inclusion."

Learn more about the Sacramento State Multicultural Education Conference by clicking here.