top of page
rainbow line graphic
Image by Jiroe (Matia Rengel)


Rocky Mountain Equality, formerly Out Boulder County (OBC), has touched the lives of many who call Colorado home, whether they’ve always been here or they came here looking for safety and support.

Has RMEQ had a positive effect on your life?


“It just kept slowly escalating,” Karina recalled. “I wasn’t desperate to leave Texas... It was our home.” 

Karina’s son, Charlie, is transgender. Hers is one of the thousands of families who have been forced to flee anti-LGBTQ+ persecution. In February 2022, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton instructed the Department of Family and Protective Services​ (commonly referred to as Child Protective Services, or CPS) to launch investigations into hospitals providing gender-affirming care for minors. While Charlie wasn’t yet on puberty blockers, he was on a waitlist. The doctor he’d been seeing suddenly had to cancel. “Appointments were getting canceled, everything got canceled. Pretty much any positive progress that we made got shut down. It left Charlie in a big nowhere.” Because Paxton had labeled gender-affirming care as “child abuse”, all mandatory reporters – meaning teachers, religious leaders, and even therapists – were required to report parents of transgender children to the state. Terrified of losing her child to CPS, violence, or suicide, Karina made the decision to leave her home, her fiancé, and her elder son behind in order to keep Charlie safe. “I knew that going back to school was not gonna be an option. We wanted to limit our exposure [to being reported]... I researched which states had the most laws protecting trans people and kiddos. The watershed moment… was when I called Rocky Mountain Equality (RMEQ) to see where we should live and I asked which high schools were safest." Without wasting a moment, Karina got ready to leave. “That was March 2022. I was in Colorado in May, and Charlie came just a couple weeks later.” “The real, I would say transformative experience was going to the Pride march last year. Feeling safe in a big group and meeting people who were fighting for the same things we’re fighting for – that really drove the message home that we were in the right place.” “If you saw Charlie last year versus this year, you’d see a young person who has just grown so much… he went on [RMEQ’s] LGBTQ+ youth camping trip and had an amazing experience with Chris and Lily. He has a great friend group, and… his grades have returned to A’s and B’s.” When asked what Karina hopes people will learn from her story, she replies, “We’re not done here – everybody deserves to be safe. Being in Boulder County doesn’t mean we can ignore what’s going on just a few hours away.” “People think this is a fortress. The dragons are still out there.”

picture of karina & charlie
rainbow line graphic

Sheri and Roberto Sandoval contacted us looking for resources to support their LGBTQ+ children, Alé and Luis. At the time, they had no idea how to support their children in walking in their unique identities, protect them

from harassment, or connect them with peers and role models. Sheri and Roberto knew they had to get involved to improve not only their own children’s lives, but also the lives of all youth who face discrimination. Since then, each member of the family has found different ways of engaging with our organization and finding support. Alé and Luis started attending our youth groups, where they met affirming peers and learned about LGBTQ+ rights in school and beyond. They have since joined our Magical Mermaid Scholarship Committee, and Alé became our Youth Program intern. Sheri and Roberto started volunteering with us and are now advocates for equality in their own right. Now the whole family views Rocky Mountain Equality as a second home. We asked the Sandovals what they’ve gotten from being engaged with our work, and what they look forward to in the coming years. Here are some of their responses: “I’m ready for physical and social spaces that are gender-affirming, because gender is a social construct and we all need access to safe and welcoming places.” - Alé “I’d like to see students in any level of education have social and systemic validation, support, and safety. No one can learn well when they are focused on surviving threats to their physical and emotional well-being.” - Sheri “We must be ready to advocate with our actions, and not just our words, so that we can achieve real change in a world that seeks to oppress us.” - Luis “I am ready for both open support and active resistance in our culture that will require each of us to provide informational, affirmational, and tangible assistance of our time and resources to those looking for answers in a time of need.” - Roberto

picture of the Sandovals
rainbow line graphic

I first learned about Out Boulder County in the spring of 2022 when I needed advice, advocacy, and guidance on how to deal with the

bullying my then-sixth grader was experiencing at middle school. He had come out to us that spring, and a few weeks later we learned that another student was physically and emotionally bullying our son because of his sexual orientation. Initially, the school administrators tried to downplay our many valid concerns about the situation. We did not think they were taking the bullying and my son’s safety seriously, so I reached out to LGBTQ+ friends in Boulder for advice. They put me in touch with Mardi Moore, who immediately returned my call. To say Mardi was helpful fails to express how immensely transformative and supportive she was. In a remarkably efficient process, she learned about our situation; assured me that the bullying my son experienced was egregious, unacceptable, and dangerous; and helped me form an action plan to make the school district take our complaints and concerns seriously. She attended meetings with our family and school administrators and advised on the final safety plan that the school put in place for our son at the beginning of the new school year. I am happy to say that we resolved the bullying in a way that held the bully accountable, made my son feel safe and supported, and has not resulted in any subsequent bullying or retaliation. We also put the school and the district on notice, and I have become more involved in LGBTQ+ advocacy within the school district as a result of our experience. When Mardi recommended that we start taking our son to the middle school group night, I initially demurred, saying that our close and active family and his many friends already ensured that our son had plenty of support. Her response has stuck with me every day since: “There’s nothing like meeting people who are going through similar things to what you are going through, no matter how supportive a family you come from.” In this very persuasive, nonjudgmental way, Mardi signaled that it wasn’t important what I thought would be best for our son to explore his identity and develop into his awesome and special self, but what he thought was. So I asked, and he answered unequivocally that he wanted to go to Rocky Mountain Equality. That was in September 2022, and to this day, his Monday nights at Middle School night are among his favorite times of the week. He even chose to celebrate his birthday there with his RMEQ friends. One of the staff members brought a cake. Not only do I appreciate how much my son enjoys his time with RMEQ, but I also absolutely love our drive home on Monday nights. Very little can replace “windshield time” when it comes to talking with your teenager, and in those short drives from the Equality Center to our house, my son shares snapshots of his day and life with me that I might not otherwise get. I am very grateful for that time. I am also enamored with the RMEQ team. My husband and I attended one of their events and were overwhelmed with how friendly everyone was. Each time I interact with RMEQ staff or supporters, I find people who are original thinkers, open minded, and friendly. I have also found a lot of opportunities to use my strengths—communications and writing—to help advocate for LGBTQ+ issues. To be completely honest, these issues were not on my radar prior to the school crisis that originally led us to RMEQ. Now, I cannot imagine not being outspoken and articulate about these issues and writing to people in authority demanding answers and, often, change. I believe unequivocally that this organization saves lives. To have RMEQ and all of its free programming is an incredible resource. The hate and homophobia that still exists in the world (yes, even in Boulder County!) is terrifying to the parent of a gay kid. Because of RMEQ, I feel more empowered to face those headwinds. RMEQ offers unconditional support, instructive resources, role models for my child, and a community for all of us. I have lived in Boulder since 2004, and I can honestly say that RMEQ is one of my most favorite aspects of this city.

Rachel Walker picture
rainbow line graphic

I left Florida last year, disgusted by and afraid of the hostility towards LGBTQ people that I saw growing all around me. Since I had mostly stayed closeted while living in Florida, I was excited to make my new  

home in Boulder County. The thrill of living in a more open and accepting community was glorious. I felt I’d found my new home. At my new job I took on the role of Pride Ambassador in hopes of making a change. Our corporate-provided Pride kits arrived in the mail at the end of May, and putting them up around the office felt so powerful — but frankly, that feeling was short-lived. I had escaped Florida, its Don’t Say Gay bills and anti-transgender laws, only for all the Pride decorations to be taken down the next day because my manager said they “weren’t inclusive of all people and beliefs”. I felt at first like Florida followed me here, but I know it’s just that anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination exists everywhere. This is not a problem singular to one area or to one type of people. While Colorado and especially Boulder County is safer, it is still. Not. Safe. Rocky Mountain Equality does the work of making sure people in our community have access to safe spaces and affirming people. They offer mental health services to people who need it, and more importantly they advocate to put an end to oppressive and harmful laws and policies which cause us to seek support in the first place. I can’t stress how crucial this last piece is: we have to organize and fight at the state and federal level to protect our people. In Florida, it’s illegal — like you can be arrested illegal — for trans people to use a bathroom that matches their gender identity. In Texas, parents affirming their transgender kids were being investigated by Child Protective Services. Montana has issued an opinion that there are only two genders, effectively nullifying both transgender and intersex identities. What alarms me most, and which should alarm you, too, is that a multitude of political candidates from across the country have promised to continue and expand these sorts of hateful, harmful policies if elected. We must stand together and support one another at a time like this. At a time like this, we desperately need organizations like RMEQ.

picture of Jess Anderson
rainbow line graphic

I started volunteering at Pride events with Rocky Mountain Equality (formerly OBC) back in 2013. Little did I know that soon RMEQ would become such an integral part of my family.

My child came out as transgender in August of 2017, just before starting 9th grade at a new school. The teachers and staff were constantly dead-naming him, and I watched with sadness and frustration as my artistic and creative kid began losing his spark and passion for life. Ultimately, he started to self-harm and suffered through 2 failed suicide attempts.The staff at his school did not attempt to help when he was placed into inpatient treatment. Out of all of the teachers and administration I reached out to, only 2 responded at all. After hitting numerous roadblocks with the school, I encouraged my child to try out the Rocky Mountain Equality youth events. We met the amazing RMEQ Youth team, who provided a safe place for my child to be exactly who they are. RMEQ's new building, the Equality Center of the Rocky Mountains, provides an entire floor dedicated to the youth program, so they can run activities and have parties and gatherings just for LGBTQ+ and Allied youth. They even started a gender-affirming clothing swap closet! RMEQ also introduced us to the Umbrella Collective, an LGBTQ+ mental health practice where he still receives services. I am so grateful for the staff of Rocky Mountain Equality, and the space that they have created for ALL folks. They are meeting people right where they are. My son has now aged out of the youth programs, and just recently started attending the young adult programs, as well as the transgender support group. Without the existence of RMEQ's programs, I just don’t know where he would be today. I am grateful that he is here, that he is supported, and most importantly, he is thriving. These services are truly life-saving and life-changing.

picture of Mary Herre
rainbow line graphic
bottom of page