Kit Waffle is an educator and parent in San Carlos, California. Photo: Kit Waffle campaign

As part of News is Out’s Election 2022 coverage, we are looking at races all over the country and sharing campaigns of key LGBTQ+ candidates.

Name: Kit Waffle

Office: San Carlos School District Board of Trustees. San Carlos, a California city with a population of about 30,000, is in San Mateo County, 19 miles south of San Francisco.

Bio: Kit Waffle, 41, who identifies as queer and nonbinary, worked in the district as an educator and more recently has taught at local private schools mainly as an English teacher but also as a literacy specialist and a humanities teacher. A single mom, Waffle’s son transitioned while attending a public school in the district, leading the family to realize that improvements were needed. While not teaching this semester and frustrated with unaddressed issues regarding LGBTQ students and families, they were inspired to run for a seat on the school board, which oversees the public pre-K to eighth grade school district that serves more than 2,600 students.

Opponent: Five seats are up for the non-partisan election on the school board. Waffle is one of four candidates hoping to fill three seats with four-year terms; there are five candidates running for two seats with two-year terms. 

Most important issue in the race: It’s important to elect school board candidates who support inclusion and equity now that right-wing activists, animated by fear and conspiracy theories, are attacking and undermining school boards across the country – mainly at the cruel expense of BIPOC and LGBTQ students and families. As the San Carlos school district works to address Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) issues, Waffle told the Bay Area Reporter they are concerned that there is not enough focus on addressing the needs of LGBTQ students: “They chose to focus on racial groups and language learners and dropped the piece for LGBTQ students.” It is also a matter of life or death, added Waffle, who pointed to the Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health that found 45% of LGBTQ youth had seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.

The significance of or historic first if Waffle wins: According to a map of out elected leaders maintained by the LGBTQ Victory Institute, there are only two who identify as nonbinary serving in California. One is Redwood City Council member Lissette Espinoza-Garnica, a Democratic Socialist. As far as Waffle knows, they would be the only LGBTQ person serving on the San Carlos school board if elected.

What the campaign is like on the ground: All five of the school board’s seats are on the November 8 ballot. Waffle is running for one of the three full four-year terms against three incumbents, two of whom were appointed to their seats. Thus, Waffle feels they have “a good chance” of winning. “I only have to beat one to get on the school board,” noted Waffle, a first-time candidate for elected office. “Some people are really enthusiastic and some people just won’t vote for me. I am not expecting, as a nonbinary person, to get everyone’s support.”

Michael Yamashita is the publisher of Bay Area Reporter.