CoastPride Project: Community-Driven Change through Citizen Science

San Mateo County, CA (February 2023 - Present)

Project Goal

Support students in voicing their experiences and acting as agents of change to make their school environments more inclusive and welcoming.

Guiding Question

“Use the Discovery Tool to document things that are affirming (positive) and non-affirming (negative) spaces and interactions in your community and school”

Project Description

CoastPride is a community organization that aims to support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) individuals and families in San Mateo County through access to programs and events that support the community. Additionally, CoastPride partners with local schools to provide education, social services, and community events to create a support system for youth in the area. By promoting an accepting local community in the coastside of the Bay Area, CoastPride envisions a welcoming and safe environment where all LGBTQ individuals and their families can thrive.

In 2022, CoastPride partnered with the Our Voice team to engage students from three public high schools in San Mateo county. The youth scientists represented a diverse group of students at each school across gender, sexuality, race and disability. This was done through focused recruitment through GSA clubs and school Social Justice groups.

Pescadero Middle & High School

Half Moon Bay High School

Pilarcitos High School

The CoastPride Our Voice project provided a pathway for LGBTQ+ and BIPOC youth to become involved in the civic and educational institutions that affect their lives. The goal was to empower students as youth scientists to take charge of change in their own community and school environment to create more inclusive and affirming spaces for all identities. 


Over a total of 32 Discovery Tool Walks, CoastPride youth scientists collected 137 photos and recorded 128 narratives about their school and campus in relation to affirming and non-affirming spaces. 

These records were catagorized into 8 themes:

  • Gender (15 photos)
  • Language (8 photos)
  • Mental Health (44 photos)
  • Physical Activity (14 photos)
  • Race/Ethnicity (13 photos)
  • Religion (7 photos)
  • Sexual Orientation (7 photos)
  • Something Else (47 photos)

After data collection, youth scientists attended a hybrid community meeting to discuss findings, identify emerging themes, and create action steps and petitions for change. 

Challenges and Non-Affirming Results

  • Stressful classroom spaces
  • Decrepit buildings
  • Anti-LGBTQ slurs from peers
  • Racial slurs from fellow peers
  • The need to address youth mental health

Petitions for Change

  • Repair facilities
  • Create impactful and safe spaces for mental health
  • Intense changes needed to school culture to address anti-racial and anti-queer rhetoric

Activities and Outcomes

A final meeting was hosted across the three schools to share assets and challenges across school sites. Further action steps include:

  • Sharing findings with administration and school boards at each site
  • Present and/or include finalized reports in school board presentations
  • Recruit neighboring school districts
  • Repeat the study upon receiving further funding to guide school change




San Francisco Foundation

Associated Publications:

Our Voice Impact

"This experience has changed my life.  I see inadequacies everywhere I go as it relates to pedestrian access and safety.  I even stop [at] construction sites to remind them to be considerate of the handicapped in our community.  Thank you all so much for this awareness and empowerment to require change."

~ Pam Jiner, GirlTrek Advocacy Leader, Denver CO