Cheri Pies, a public health professor who broke down barriers with her landmark 1985 book, “Considering Parenthood: A Workbook for Lesbians,” a bible on the “gay boom” of the 1980s and beyond, died July 4 at her home in Berkeley, California. She was 73 years old.
His wife, Melina Linder, said the cause was cancer.
Later in life, Dr. Paice (her first name was pronounced “Cherry”) became a leading researcher and professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health, investigating the effects of economic and racial inequality on such matters as infant mortality and health over generations.
But she made her name decades before she turned to academia with her groundbreaking book. That journey began in the ’70s, when Dr. Baez was a health educator at Planned Parenthood, advising straight women considering motherhood.
Her focus began to shift in 1978, after her partner adopted a daughter. At the time, the concept of openly gay parents was still unheard of in culture in general.
Just that year, New York became the first state to say it wouldn’t Rejection of adoption requests Only on the basis of homosexuality. A year later, a gay California couple broke barriers as the first known to adopt a child together.
Dr. Paes was struck by the lack of support available to same-sex parents, as well as the lack of basic information about the unique challenges they face. She began running workshops in her home in Oakland, California, advertising fliers at women’s bookstores and other places where lesbians congregate.
By the early 1980s, word of her work had spread outside the Bay Area, and she was bombarded with letters and phone calls from lesbians across the country. In response, Dr. Paice compiled her teachings and experiences into a book. Considering Parenthood: A Workbook for Lesbians, published by lesbian feminist press Spencers Inc., offers practical advice on a wide range of topics, including the use of sperm donors, legal issues surrounding adoption, and ways to build a support network.
The book, which appeared 30 years before same-sex marriage was legalized nationally, opened portals To countless other books about LGBTQ parenting.
“it was Definitely a pioneerDorsey Greene, psychologist and author of The Gay Parenting Book (with Dr. “I would recommend her book to clients. It was when lesbian couples were just beginning to consider having children as lesbians outside the home. Sherry started that conversation.”)
Dr.. Pace, who received a master’s degree in social work from Boston University in 1976, eventually turned to academia, earning another master’s degree, in maternal and child health, from Berkeley in 1985, and a doctorate in health education there in 1993.
She was working as director of family, maternal, and child health programs in Contra Costa County, which borders Berkeley and Oakland, when she heard a talk in 2003 by Dr. Michael C. Low, who would become dean of the Berkeley School of Public Health.
Dr. Lu talked about a concept called life course theory, which centers on the idea that social and economic conditions at every stage of life, starting in childhood, can have powerful and lasting effects over generations. “What What surrounds us shapes usPaes explained in a 2014 lecture he gave at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “Some people might say that your zip code is more important than your genetic code.”
At Berkeley, Dr. Pais will eventually team up with Dr. Lu and others to create the Best Babies Zone Initiative, a pioneering program that will study—and ideally improve—sanitary conditions in economically challenged neighborhoods across the country.
In 2012, she became the principal investigator for the program, after Dr. Low took a position in the Obama administration. The initiative included home health visits and working with community leaders to create parent-child playgroups, improving park safety and promoting job skills training. It began in Oakland, New Orleans, and Cincinnati and had spread to six other cities by 2017, the year Dr. Pace retired from Berkeley. The program is still active today.
“There are people doing politics on a grand scale structural racismIn an effort to change policy and practices,” Dr. Pais said in an interview posted on the Berkeley School of Public Health website in April. “Best Kids District is at the other end of the spectrum, working on a small scale to make a difference for people who can’t wait for a policy change to happen.”
The incidence of low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome in such communities was a focus of the programme. “The kids are the canary in the mine,” Dr. Baez said in her University of Alabama speech. “If babies aren’t born healthy, you know something isn’t right with society.”
Cheramy Anne Pies was born on November 26, 1949, in Los Angeles, the second of three daughters of Maurice Pies, a physician, and Doris (Napushek) Pies, a nurse. (she later changed her name to Sherry).
Growing up in Encino, in the San Fernando Valley, outgoing, energetic Sherry was a fan of movies, especially musicals like “My Fair Lady,” and had an early taste of the medical profession working as a receptionist in her father’s office.
After graduating from nearby Birmingham High School, she enrolled at the University of Berkeley in 1967, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in social sciences in 1971.
Berkeley at the time was a cauldron of Vietnam War-era political passions, following the protests of the free speech movement that rocked campuses beginning in 1964. “Although I did not actively participate in it, I was certainly exposed to its politics,” she later said of the movement.
In addition to her wife, Dr. Bays is survived by sisters Lois Goldberg and Stacy Bays.
She eventually channeled the Berkeley activism of the 1960s as an author and professor, working to improve the lives of openly gay parents in the 1980s and beyond—whose number had swelled so rapidly that by 1996 Newsweek reported that an estimated number of Six million to 14 million Children in the United States have had at least one gay parent.
“Adoption agencies are reporting more and more inquiries from prospective parents — especially men — who identify themselves as gay, and sperm banks say they are in the midst of what some call a lesbian-driven ‘gay boom’,” the article reads.
Many of this generation would acknowledge their debt to Dr. Bayes for the rest of their lives, Ms. Linder said in a phone interview: “Cherry and I could be anywhere in the world—on a picnic in New Zealand or just walking in the Berkeley hills—and people would see her and stop to thank her, saying how Ben or Alice or anyone wouldn’t be in their lives if it wasn’t for Sherry.”