As Pride month continues, Inside CDCR caught up with RJ Donovan Correctional Facility’s (RJD) Chief of Mental Health Dr. Sonia Bahro.
As a CDCR/CCHCS GARE Ambassador, Bahro leads the Pride observance at RJD.
Bahro attended the California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego. In 2006, she received her clinical psychology doctorate degree with an emphasis in forensics.
Her career with CDCR began at RJD in 2007 as a staff psychologist. She promoted to senior psychologist supervisor in 2015. She then served as chief psychologist from 2015-2022 and named Chief of Mental Health at RJD in 2022.
Bahro is committed to ensuring RJD offers the highest level of quality in mental health, providing innovative programs to incarcerated residents.
A longtime ally to the LGBTQIA+ community, she has a passion for promoting equality and equity for all. Active in San Diego’s LGBTQIA+ community since 2014, Bahro volunteers for various fundraisers and human rights organizations.
She regularly participates in San Diego’s Pride Parade behind the scenes in addition to being a parade participant.
Bahro has a transgender family member, driving her to advocate for trans-youth. Her goal is to increase tolerance in the world for all children.
Meet Dr. Sonia Bahro, leading Pride activities at RJD
What does Pride mean to you?
Pride to me is an opportunity to advocate during a time when the focus shines on the LGBTQIA+ community. While advocacy and Pride is something I adhere to 365 days a year, June is especially important to be able to feel a sense of community and acceptance. (It’s a time to) share that experience with others. Pride means accepting oneself and bringing color into our world. (It offers) a sense that everyone can love, be loved, and be respected.
What steps can a CDCR employee take to be an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community?
Respect and kindness can go a long way. Any CDCR employee can be kind and respectful to their fellow co-workers, no matter who they are or who they love.
Specifically, employees can:
- attend a Pride parade or other community activity
- educate themselves on the negative effects/perceptions the LGBTQIA+ community is subjected to
- donate time/money to an organization that protects LGBTQIA+ rights
- be mindful of the language used and the effects it might have on others.
How are you planning to celebrate Pride?
I plan to celebrate by attending Pride parades across the State in various capacities, including walking the parade with my family. I wear a pink and blue flag pin throughout the month of June (and July since San Diego celebrates Pride in July) to show my support.
What does RJD have planned to celebrate Pride?
RJD is the only CDCR institution that has had Pride events for the residents. In 2022, RJD became the first to hold a Pride event. This year, June 5-6, we held True Colors – RJD Pride. RJD hosted groups with guest speakers from California universities and Pride organizations for the residents. All residents in attendance received refreshments (thanks to) donations from one of our guest speakers.
We held a drag queen dance performance as well as a special viewing of the film LA: A Queer History, which aired for PBS. The event concluded with a question-and-answer session with the film’s director and producer.
Headquarters and regional staff were also in attendance. Overall, the community involvement and the reception was phenomenal.