At Dawn, We Rise


This has been a devastating day for many of us. The results of this election have opened floodgates of bigotry and hatred to flow through. We are now in a profound moment of global history, which will test the strength of people of conscience. Yet, as dark as the days ahead may be, we will always find the light.

Please take a moment to read our statement of action tonight. We recommit ourselves to meaningful rural LGBTQ youth empowerment and eradicating white supremacy.

While we had a beautiful evening two weeks ago opening our state LGBTQ youth advocacy center, we are now called to use our power and place for urgent action. We will share three key ways below that you can get involved to support the LGBTQ youth movement in Pennsylvania, including the opportunity for young advocates to attend our regional mobilization meetings in the coming weeks which will extend throughout our nine regions across the commonwealth.

PYC State Headquarters Opening Reception – October 25, 2016

We send our love to those who have been threatened with great harm. We will continue to be in solidarity with people of color, immigrants, indigenous people, those with disabilities, women, Muslims, Jews, and everyone who has been intimidated with violence and hatred.

PYC’s mission has always been clear: We are empowering our generation of leaders to be effective advocates in local and state government. We will continue to successfully pursue our mission and create meaningful change.

Since we established PYC in 2011, we have centered much of our work on supporting rural LGBTQ youth. There is great concern for the shifting national landscape as it relates to the safety of LGBTQ people in our rural communities, where those who harbor hatred may feel emboldened in these days ahead. We want to assure you that we are with every young rural LGBTQ Pennsylvanian, and we will rise with you.

We will be redoubling our efforts to equip young rural LGBTQ Pennsylvanians with the necessary tools to advocate in their communities for human decency and intersectional social justice. While some organizations focus primarily on flashy fundraisers in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh alone, literally flying over our heartland, for years we have been in the trenches throughout rural Pennsylvania. We look forward to expanding our advocacy efforts across the largest rural population of any state in the nation.

We imagine our world where rural Pennsylvanians of conscience are fully equipped and empowered to talk with their neighbors about social justice. The status quo of dismissing rural leadership is unacceptable, certainly as we consider the impacts our rural electorate has on American democracy. Our rural communities can hold the United States together – or cement our division apart.

As people of conscience, we will persevere in going high, regardless of how low future events may try to pull us down. In the pitch black, we believe our light can shine and grow.

We have hope that those who are surrounded in hatred and violence toward our diverse communities, can be successfully met with our stronger capacity to find human decency in one another.

Indeed, we are at a scary crossroads where so much of our recent progress in human history is up to be erased.

We do not make any bones about how white supremacy has and continues to play an unfortunate role in our political systems. We reaffirm our commitment to eliminating white supremacy, racism, and xenophobia wherever it exists. We will not rest while any of us is under attack from our own government and communities.

Our commitment to transparency and accountability leads us to share with you our reflection: We recognize the longtime inadequate support for these critical, intersectional social justice efforts. In the next chapter for our nation, we must ask each other clearly: Will you help? Will you get involved? Recent national investments into Pennsylvania on LGBT issues have been sent through unaccountable politically-connected enterprises rather than community-based intersectional social justice organizations like PYC. We hope you join us in building a community movement worthy of your investment.

Governor Tom Wolf Visits PYC’s 2nd Annual PA Comes Out for Freedom Event  – October 26, 2016

Earlier this fall, we shared with you three important ways you can support LGBTQ youth advocacy in Pennsylvania. We implore you to consider getting involved today to safeguard the lives young LGBTQ Pennsylvanians.

1. Keystone Pride Alliance

For Youth and Young Advocates

Friday, November 18th
Erie-West: Allegheny College, 4-5pm
Pittsburgh and Southwestern PA: University of Pittsburgh, 7-9pm

Saturday, November 19th
North Central: Lock Haven University, 2-4pm
South Central: PYC Headquarters, 6-8pm

Sunday, November 20th
NEPA and Lehigh Valley: East Stroudsburg University, 1-3pm
Philadelphia and Delaware Valley: University of Pennsylvania, 5-7pm


2. PYC Leadership Council

For Young Pennsylvanians
  • If you are a young Pennsylvanian interested in supporting the Pennsylvania LGBTQ youth movement in a broader way, consider joining the PYC Leadership Council. Members of the council are advisors to the organization and participate in a monthly giving circle to the organization. Click here to join!


3. Keystone Partners

For All Friends of Pennsylvania
  • Supporting LGBTQ youth leadership with a monthly donation will allow us to sustain and grow our operations. For a monthly gift starting at $10, you can join our donor circle as a Keystone Partner. You’ll get special insider updates on PYC activities and agenda. Click here to become a Keystone Partner!


PYC Constitutional Convention in Harrisburg August 6, 2011

The most powerful words that come to our mind are given to us from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Constitution that was drafted in 1960, which we adapted into the founding documents of PYC in 2011:

“Through nonviolence, courage displaces fear, love transforms hate. Acceptance dissipates prejudice; hope ends despair. Peace dominates war; faith reconciles doubt. Mutual regards cancels enmity. Justice for all overcomes injustice. The redemptive community supersedes systems of gross social immorality.

Love is the central motif of nonviolence. Love is the force by which God binds man to himself and man to man. Such love goes to the extreme; it remains loving and forgiving even during hostility. It matches the capacity of evil to inflict suffering with an even more enduring capacity to absorb evil, all the while persisting in love.

By appealing to conscience and standing on the moral nature of human existence, nonviolence nurtures the atmosphere in which reconciliation and justice become actual possibilities.”

PYC State Leaders Meeting at Bloomsburg – November 5, 2016

There are many, many advances in LGBTQ civil rights that are threatened to be taken away. The spirit of the current administration has been embracing of LGBTQ people – and that is expected to disappear. Fear is on the minds of countless LGBTQ people throughout our nation.

Though we may be scared for our future, we are also fully ready to push back and fight for justice and freedom. This fear is not just because we happen to be LGBTQ, but that many of us live at the intersection of being LGBTQ and a person of color, a woman, a person with a disability, immigrant, Muslim, Jewish, and other marginalized identities, who have been targeted for harm. We fear for our nation not just on social issues, but on our economy, environment, and education system.

The arc of the moral universe certainly bends toward justice, no matter in times when the arc has been made longer.

Today is the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht, or night of broken glass, which was a massive program across Nazi Germany which resulted in mass destruction of Jewish homes, synagogues, business, and hundreds of murders. This morning, several Swastikas were found emblazoned on buildings in Philadelphia. This is our reality, yet we can work to change it.

We understand this is a very difficult time for many of us. Please know, you are absolutely worth fighting for. Please call any of the hotlines below if you want to talk with someone.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255 (online chat available)
Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741
The Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386
Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860

We ask all allies and accomplices in this work to contact us at anytime if we can be helpful to you. Please let us know where and when to be there, and we will be with you as we can.

You may reach out to us anytime. I can personally be contacted by email at, and our phone number is 717-743-1035.

We can – and must – work together to ensure violence and hatred do not harden our nation and commonwealth. This is possible when we all get involved, mobilize, and take action.

Thank you for your continued leadership and support. We are counting on your help to ensure we not only survive, but realize the light ahead and thrive.

  Yours Always,

  Jason Landau Goodman
  Executive Director

Pennsylvania Comes Out for Freedom 2016

The Second Annual Pennsylvania Comes Out for Freedom event was held in the State Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday, October 26, 2016. The event is a formal community observance of both LGBTQ History Month and National Coming Out Day in our State Capitol. This year, speakers included Former State Rep. Mike Fleck, Chair of the PA Board of Probation and Parole Leo Dunn, and Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Hannah Smith Brubaker. Community leaders included Ari and Alissa Bowman, Dr. Michele Angello, Alonda Talley, Suzanne Oliva, and Nykolai Blichar. We also had a special performance from Oscar Williams, who was in Fun Home on Broadway.

We were thrilled to welcome Governor Tom Wolf for this special event. He was able to meet the speakers who came in from across the state.


Trans Lives Remembered and Celebrated Across PA

The International Transgender Day of Remembrance
(TDOR) is held in local communities and campuses across the nation to memorialize those who have been killed due to anti-transgender bigotry. Many victims of anti-transgender violence have been invisible in their communities and attackers not often brought to justice.
The 18th Annual TDOR brings together communities to mourn and honor victims of anti-transgender hate crimes and as a call to action towards the respect of all people regardless of gender identity or expression.

This year in Pennsylvania, we mourn and remember Maya Young, 25. She was stabbed to death in Philadelphia on February 20, 2016. Last year, in 2015, Pennsylvania mourned London Chanel, 21, and Kiesha Jenkins, 22, both black trans women who were killed in Philadelphia. In July 2013, another young trans woman, Diamond Williams, was brutally murdered in Philadelphia. The court case is ongoing in her murder. There have been countless known slayings of transgender people because of their identity around the world since last year. The TDOR website memorializes the murders of over 75 transgender individuals we are aware of in this past year.

Over 25 organized vigils were held in communities throughout the commonwealth for TDOR each year in 2014 and 2015. This was a large increase from just a few events held in Pittsburgh and Southeastern Pennsylvania before in 2013.

November is also Transgender Awareness Month. Many communities are not just mourning those lost to violence, but celebrating and lifting up the lives of transgender people. There are wonderful educational and community events set to take place throughout Pennsylvania. Several student organizations are holding Transgender Awareness Weeks.

Transgender Day of Remembrance in Pennsylvania

November 20th, 2016


Lebanon Valley College (Miller Chapel), November 15th, 7:00pm – 8:00pm
Host: LVC Freedom Rings

Muhlenberg College (Egner Chapel), November 21st, 5:00pm – 6:00pm
Host: Muhlenberg College Trans Advocacy Coalition
More Information

Unitarian Universalist Church of Athens (112 North Street), November 20th, 11:30am – 12:30pm
Host: Unitarian Universalist Church of Athens

Bloomsburg University (Multicultural Center), November 18th, 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Host: Bloomsburg LGBTQA Resource Center
More Information

University of Pittsburgh at Bradford (Wick Chapel), November 18th, 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Host: University of Pittsburgh at Bradford LGBTS Alliance
More Information

Dickinson College (28 North College Avenue), November 20th, 5:00pm – 6:00pm
Host: Dickinson College LGBTQ Services

Thomas Paine Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Collegeville (3424 Ridge Pike), November 20th, 7:00pm – 7:45pm
Host: Thomas Paine Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Collegeville
More Information

Bel-Aire Clarion (2800 West 8th Street), November 20th, 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Host: TransFamily of NWPA

More Information

Glen Mills
Imago Dei MCC (1223 Middletown Road), November 17th, 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Host: PRYSM Youth Center

More Information

The Pennsylvania State Capitol Steps (3rd and State Streets), November 20th, 5:30pm – 6:30pm
Host: TransCentral PA

Indiana University of Pennsylvania, November 17th, 7:00pm – 8:00pm

Host: IUP Pride Alliance

Kutztown University of Pennsylvania – Old Main Concourse, November 17th, 11:00am – 3:00pm
Host: GLBTQ Resource Center, Lambda Delta Xi, and Allies

More Information

Unitarian Universalist Church of Lancaster (538 West Chestnut Street), November 20th, 10:00am – 11:15am
Host: Unitarian Universalist Church of Lancaster

More Information

Bucknell University (Olin Science Quad), November 17th, 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Host: BSU, GSA, and the Bucknell Office of LGBTQ+ Services

Penn LGBT Center (3907 Spruce Street), November 16th, 5:30pm – 6:30pm
Host: Penn LGBT Center

More Information

Drexel University (Peck Lawn – 32nd and Market Streets), November 18th, 9:00am – 10:00am
Host: Drexel University Office of Inclusion

More Information

William Way Community Center (1315 Spruce Street), November 20th, 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Host: William Way Community Center

More Information

Carnegie Mellon University – The Cut (5000 Forbes Avenue), November 17th, 11:30am – 3:00pm
Host: CMU Allies

More Information

PERSAD (5301 Butler Street), November 20th, 7:00pm – 10:00pm
Host: TransPride Pittsburgh

More Information

University of Pittsburgh – William Pitt Union Lawn (3959 Fifth Avenue), November 17th, 9:00pm – 10:00pm
Host: Pitt Rainbow Alliance

Susquehanna University, November 20th, 6:00pm – 7:00pm
Host: Susquehanna University GSA

More Information

State College
Penn State University Park – Old Main Steps, November 17th, 8:00pm – 9:00pm
Host: CLGBTQE, LGBTQA Student Resource Center, University Libraries Diversity Committee, and the LGBTA Student Roundtable

More Information

Calvary United Church of Christ (640 Centre Avenue), November 19th, 7:00pm – 10:00pm
Host: Reading Pride Celebration

More Information

First Presbyterian Church (100 East Wheeling Street), November 20th, 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Host: Washington County GSA, Inc.

More Information

West Chester
West Chester University (Sykes Union), November 18th, 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Host: Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA)

More Information

West Chester
Unitarian Church of West Chester (501 South High Street), November 20th, 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Host: LGBT Equality Alliance

More Information


November 2016 Transgender Awareness Events


Philadelphia: GenderTalk
Penn LGBT Center (3907 Spruce Street), November 17th, 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Host: Penn Non-Cis

More Information

Lewisburg: Lourdes Hunter
Bucknell University (Rooke Chemistry Buliding), November 15th, 7:00pm – 8:00pm

More Information

Pittsburgh: Trans Voices
BOOM Concepts (5139 Penn Avenue), November 20th, 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Host: Garden of Peace Project

More Information

If you would like to add your event to this page, please email us at



PA Courts Now Prohibit Gender Identity Discrimination

UJS Policy UpdateWe are thrilled to share that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has revised the Unified Judicial System’s non-discrimination policy to include protections on the basis of gender identity and expression. This policy is now in effect at every court under the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction, including the Superior, Commonwealth, Common Pleas, and Magisterial courts. The policy must be adhered to by court employees, as well as district attorneys and lawyers engaging in court-related matters.

In June 2016, we approached Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Christine Ward to propose this update. Judge Ward brought the proposed amendment to the Supreme Court which adopted the policy in in July. A judicial system-wide memo was distributed in August to all Justices, Judges, Magisterial District Judges, and state-level judiciary employees announcing the new policy.

We regard the amended non-discrimination policy as a seismic shift toward ensuring dignity and respect for transgender Pennsylvanians.

Actions that are now prohibited range from harassment by court employees toward transgender people, to prohibiting judges from discriminating against transgender people in open court. Additionally, court employees who are transgender are now explicitly protected against discrimination and harassment in their workplace. To address violations of the policy, members of the public and court employees may file a complaint which will be handled as are other cases of discrimination within the state judicial system.

Throughout the commonwealth, transgender people have shared how judges, court employees, prosecutors, and attorneys have been known to discriminate and demean them, both in personal interactions and in court proceedings. However, as the update reflects, the judiciary includes many judges who are supportive of fully respecting transgender people.

This is a significant moment in ensuring justice for all in our judicial system. Many transgender Pennsylvanians have too often had terrifying and traumatizing experiences in our judicial system. We are incredible proud of the Supreme Court’s declaration that transgender people must be regarded with dignity. This policy is instrumental in paving the way forward for openly transgender judges to serve across the commonwealth.

Ciora Thomas, founder of the transgender women of color support network Sisters United in Pittsburgh, reflected on the importance of this update. She said, “I am thrilled to know a safer and dignified future for trans people is becoming a reality. Now we can stand in front of any judge and be respected as women, men, and people, without being misgendered or incorrectly named. We now have the dignity we deserve as American citizens.”

Several years ago, Ciora was before a local magistrate for a minor traffic citation, where she was relentlessly harassed by court employees and the judge. In open court, the judge only referred to her by her birth name and forced her to remove her hair. She complied in the dehumanizing process in order to avoid judicially-imposed consequences. She would now be able to file a complaint and see through a charge where the court employees and judge could be disciplined.

Deja Alvarez, Director of the LGBTQ Home for Hope in Philadelphia, the first LGBTQ homeless shelter in Pennsylvania, said that the new policy “will help empower us to fight against any injustice and bias perpetrated against Trans* communities in the courts. This is a landmark moment in ending discrimination in a system that directly affects our ability to live, where our community is often unjustly put through the criminal justice system at alarmingly high rates.”

The full policy can be found online at the Unified Judicial System’s website, along with the complaint forms.

Carlisle, Wilkes-Barre to Advance Non-discrimination Ordinances

IMG_1609In the wake of the Orlando massacre and the continued stalling of statewide non-discrimination legislation, local governments have renewed their efforts to support LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances.

At a June vigil for the Orlando victims, Carlisle Council member Dawn Flowers announced the proposed legislation. There is support for the ordinance among the Council members and community members. At an open forum meeting last Thursday with the Council, over 100 community members engaged in the conversation discussing the merits of the ordinance. The ordinance is expected to be adopted in October, at earliest.

On Monday, Wilkes-Barre Council member Beth Gilbert announced she plans to introduce an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance next week. Wilkes-Barre would be the second major city in Northeastern Pennsylvania to do so, following Scranton in 2003. The ordinance is expected to have strong support, including from openly-gay Council member Tony Brooks. Pittston and Dickson City have recently adopted non-discrimination ordinances as well.

In Southwestern Pennsylvania, Butler Council continues to debate a non-discrimination ordinance. Approximately 75 community members attended last Thursday’s meeting, which had to be moved to the Butler Fire Company Building to accommodate the many citizens interested in speaking on the proposal. An ordinance has not been introduced and there is currently no timeline for an adoption.

There are currently 35 municipalities in Pennsylvania with LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances. According to the Movement Advancement Project, only Florida has just as many in any single state. With the expected adoption of an ordinance in Carlisle and Wilkes-Barre this year, Pennsylvania would become the state with the most local non-discrimination ordinances in the nation.

If you are interested in advocating for a local non-discrimination ordinance in your community, please send us an email and look up more information at the Suburban and Rural Alliance of Pennsylvania.

Photo: Butler residents speak on the proposed non-discrimination ordinance at the July 28th City Council meeting (PYC)

BREAKING NEWS: House Discharge Resolution Filed for LGBT Non-discrimination Bill

BREAKING NEWS: State Representative Dan Frankel (D-23, Pittsburgh) filed a discharge resolution on HB 1510, the leading LGBT non-discrimination bill in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, on Thursday, June 8th.

A discharge resolution is a rarely-used legislative maneuver to bring a bill that has not been voted on in committee to a full vote. The Pennsylvania Youth Congress first called for consideration of this move over two years ago, in 2014. 

HB 1510 has stalled in the House State Government Committee, as its chair Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-12, Butler) has for a long time been in staunch opposition to the legislation. In Harrisburg, if a committee chair does not want to run a bill, the bill simply does not move forward. That is, unless the bill is transferred to a different committee or a discharge resolution is filed.

The first non-discrimination bill to include protection on the basis of sexual orientation was introduced in 1976. Nearly 25 non-discrimination bills inclusive of sexual orientation and/or gender identity have been introduced in the 40 years since. Rep. Frankel has introduced LGBT non-discrimination legislation six times in the House since 2001. The leading LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination bill in the State Senate is SB 974.

Only once has an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination bill been voted out of committee. In March 2009, the House State Government Committee had a historic 12-11 vote that ushered the bill forward to be considered by the House. Rep. Babette Josephs (D-182, Philadelphia) was then the chair of the committee. The bill stalled out that year.

A discharge resolution petition needs 25 signatures to call for a vote to consider the bill before the full House. If a majority vote in favor of the petition, then the bill will be voted on.

Once the petition is successfully filed, any member who has signed it can call for a vote (which no member has yet done). After two legislative session days, the vote to consider a full House vote would commence.  If the bill fails to receive a majority of votes, then the bill dies, and non-discrimination legislation would have to be reintroduced into the House.

The following House members have signed onto the discharge resolution petition for HB 1510. All but one of the signatories are Democrats.

Rep. Dan Frankel, (D-23), Allegheny
Rep. Leslie Acosta, D-197 Philadelphia
Rep. Kevin Boyle (D-172), Philadelphia, Montgomery
Rep. Tim Briggs (D-149), Montgomery
Rep. Donna Bullock (D-195), Philadelphia
Rep. Tonyelle Cook-Artis (D-200), Philadelphia
Rep. Mary Jo Daley (D-148), Montgomery
Rep. Tina Davis (D-141), Bucks
Rep. Jason Dawkins (D-179), Philadelphia
Rep. Madeline Dean (D-153), Montgomery
Rep. Pam DeLissio (D-194), Philadelphia, Montgomery
Rep. Marty Flynn (D-113), Lackawanna
Rep. Ed Gainey (D-24), Allegheny
Rep. Jordan Harris (D-186), Philadelphia
Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky (D-161), Delaware
Rep. Joanna McClinton (D-191), Delaware, Philadelphia
Rep. Dan Miller (D-42), Allegheny
Rep. Tom Murt (D-152), Montgomery
Rep. Michael O’Brien (D-175), Philadelphia
Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski (D-121), Luzerne
Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-126), Berks
Rep. Michael Schlossberg (D-132), Lehigh
Rep. Kevin Schreiber (D-95), York
Rep. Peter Schweyer (D-22), Lehigh
Rep. Brian Sims (D-182), Philadelphia

Two signatories of the discharge resolution petition are not co-sponsors of HB 1510, Rep. Tom Murt (R-152) and Rep. Tonyelle Cook-Artis (D-200).

Following the developments in North Carolina with their HB 2, several legislators removed themselves as co-sponsors of non-discrimination legislation, including Sen. Mario Scavello (R-40, Monroe and Northampton) and Rep. Jamie Santora (R-163, Delaware). Rep. Kathy Watson (R-144, Bucks) and Rep. Scott Petri (R-178, Bucks) have been under pressure from the hate group-designated American Family Association of Pennsylvania to remove their co-sponsorship of HB 1510 as well. When Sen. Scott Wagner (R-28, York) was approached to remove his co-sponsorship of SB 974, he publicly rebuked the push and made a clear statement in support of the bill.

We encourage all Pennsylvanians to reach out to their representatives an encourage them to vote YES on the discharge resolution on HB 1510.

You can find your House member on the General Assembly website here.

We will post updates as they become available.


Dignity for All Project Launch; PYC Releases PA Model Trans Student Policy

Dignity For All Slider
We are proud to launch the Dignity for All project today, as an online resource for school districts in supporting transgender students. We have additionally released a model policy for supporting transgender and gender expansive students in Pennsylvania. The model policy is being sent this afternoon to the fifty largest school districts in the commonwealth for their consideration to adopt. The resource and model policy can be accessed at

One week ago, the United States’ Department of Education and Department of Justice released landmark guidance, clarifying federal protections for transgender students through Title IX. Pennsylvania does not have a statewide gender identity-inclusive non-discrimination law, and only 34 municipalities have local LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances. Most recently, Ambler Borough Council unanimously adopted an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance on Tuesday, May 17.

The Dignity for All project aims to provide clear information for Pennsylvania school district administrators and board members with the latest information on their responsibilities to support transgender and gender expansive students. The resource includes information on existing state and federal policy, as well as a listing of trainers that provide education on transgender students and building safer school climates for all.

We have been supporting local advocacy efforts for transgender students since its founding in 2011. PYC has partnered with school district leaders in crafting basic non-discrimination protections for transgender students, from Pittsburgh to New Hope. We are producing a forthcoming report on LGBT-inclusive policies across Pennsylvania, which indicates only a handful of districts currently include gender identity and expression as a protected class. We has been helping lead efforts toward the adoption of comprehensive transgender student policies since 2013 in a number of districts throughout the commonwealth.

As of today, at least five Pennsylvania school districts have enacted a comprehensive transgender student policy – which include (along with their adoption date): Great Valley (4/18/16), Springfield Township (4/19/16), Upper Dublin (5/9/16), Cheltenham (5/10/16), and Lower Merion (5/16/16). All of these policies were unanimously adopted by their school boards. These districts are all located in Montgomery and Chester Counties, outside of Philadelphia.

The Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Pine-Richland school boards are expected to adopt policies this summer. In reviewing over two dozen news media reports on the federal guidelines issued last week, PYC identified nearly 40 Superintendents and district spokespeople who said they would be following the guidance – and several explicitly shared their interest in adopting a policy.

With the historic federal guidelines now released, we are proud to publicly share our model policy for school districts to consider for adoption. It incorporates critical features from policies already enacted in the commonwealth toward the goal of ensuring a safe and full access to an education regardless of a student’s gender.

Many school districts have been supporting transgender students in practice for years. Now it is time to root institutional commitments for gender inclusion into policy, to clarify how schools are accessible and welcoming for all.

As an organization, PYC commends the federal agencies for release their guidelines supporting transgender students. Additionally, we call upon the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, among other stakeholders, to work together in supporting transgender and gender expansive students.

If you are interested in advocating for a transgender student policy in your local school district, please visit the Dignity for All website for more information, or contact us by email with any questions you may have.

PA School Districts Respond to Landmark Federal Guidance Issued for Trans Students


The US Department of Education and US Department of Justice released landmark guidance last Friday clarifying that transgender students are protected under the federal non-discrimination law, Title IX. The guidance sent to every school district in the country does not have the force of law, but schools that receive federal funding are on notice that if they do not comply, they risk losing that support. Gender identity has been declared as a protected class from discrimination under Title IX given the interpretation of gender identity as part of sex stereotyping declared by US Department of Education in 2014. This interpretation was recently upheld by the Fourth Circuit, and was further clarified on Friday.

The guidelines explain that in order to be in compliance with Title IX to receive federal funding, schools must: provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment, respect a student’s affirmed name and pronouns, ensure access to sex-segregated spaces that align with a student’s gender identity, and guarantee privacy in education documents. 

Public schools in Pennsylvania receive over $1 billion in federal funding. 

Of the nearly 40 district Superintendents and spokespeople we found that commented in news media the past few days, not one said they would defy the guidance from the US Department of Education.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has stated it will continue to refer districts to the federal guidelines. Neither Governor Wolf nor Pennsylvania Department of Education Secretary Pedro Rivera have issued a direct statement regarding of the new guidelines. 

Take a look below at the nearly two dozen news stories we found from throughout the commonwealth. These news stories are collectively groundbreaking – we cannot remember a time when so many school officials spoke so directly on trans issues at once. Below are also a few editorials both supporting and attacking the guidance which have been published in Pennsylvania.

Friday, May 13th

U.S. gives directive to schools on transgender bathroom access
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/AP

White House Issues Guidance on Transgender Bathrooms
PA Homepage – Wilkes-Barre

U.S. gives directive to schools on transgender bathroom access; Valley educators seek more info
Sunbury Daily Item

‘We are going to comply’: Local schools react to Obama’s transgender directive
Johnstown Tribune-Democrat

Lancaster County schools want to be safe places for transgender students
Lancaster Online

Obama adminsitration announces transgender guidelines for students, already in place at Brashear High School
WTAE Pittsburgh

Transgender issues surface in Pittsburgh-area districts
Pittsburgh Tribune

Parents in Stroudsburg Weigh In on Transgender Announcement
WNEP from Stroudsburg

School Bathroom Issue Draws Mixed Reaction
WNEP from Wilkes-Barre

With Bethlehem Area already on board, Lehigh Valley school districts to gear up for Obama’s transgender directive
Allentown Morning Call

Local school districts respond to federal guidance for transgender students
Centre Daily Times from State College

Obama: Let transgender students choose
Fox Erie

Transgender Bathroom Pushback
NBC Philadelphia

US gives directive to schools on transgender bathroom access
NBC Pittsburgh

Saturday, May 14th

Obama administration gives schools guidance on transgender students’ rights
Philadelphia Inquirer

Berks County school officials weigh in on trangender bathroom directive
Reading Eagle

With federal directive, area schools to discuss transgender bathroom issue
Scranton Times-Tribune

Transgender bathroom directive ‘not a complete surprise’ for area superintendents
Wilkes-Barre Citzens’ Voice

Sunday, May 15th

How the transgender bathroom issue plays out in Pa., Erie
Erie Times-News

Op-Eds this Weekend from Pennsylvania

Obama made the wrong call with transgender bathroom rule: Ken Kilpatrick
Penn Live

LIVING YOUR TRUTH: ‘We see you’ – Attorney General Lynch historically stands for transgender rights
NEPA Scene

The Democrats’ LGBTQ war on women
Lebanon Daily News

Thomas: North Carolina fights back
Carlisle Sentinel

Photo: Pittsburgh high school students preparing to testify before the Pittsburgh School Board in favor of the proposed trans student policy on May 2, 2016 (Pennsylvania Youth Congress)

Great Valley + Springfield Township Adopt First Known Trans Student Policies in PA, Backward Movement Proposed in Pine-Richland

GV and Springfield2










We have finally arrived at a historic moment for transgender student rights in Pennsylvania.

The Great Valley and Springfield Township School Districts have become the first known districts in Pennsylvania to adopt formal policies supporting trans students!

On Monday night, the Great Valley School Board voted to adopt Policy 103.3. Last night, on Tuesday, the Springfield Township School Board voted to approve Policy 253. Both are comprehensive regulations in support of transgender students. The Great Valley School Board introduced Policy 103.3 on March 14, 2016 and adopted their regulation on April 18, 2016. The Springfield Township School Board unanimously approved both the first reading of the policy on March 15, 2016 and the final second reading on April 19, 2016.

The comprehensive transgender student policies enacted in Great Valley and Springfield – both suburbs of Philadelphia – address critical areas of educational opportunities. The policies and those being considered across the commonwealth include privacy rights for transgender students, handling academic records, incorporation in sex-segregated programs, restroom and locker room access, integration in athletic activities, dress codes, and general harassment and discrimination.
The Lower Merion School District, in Montgomery County, had a first reading of their transgender student policy on Monday. The Pittsburgh School District has recently announced its plans to introduce their policy next month. Several more districts will be introducing their own policies in the near future. Across 500 districts, many schools throughout Pennsylvania have in practice supported transgender students for years, but are now beginning to take the critical steps to enact official policies.

The Pennsylvania Youth Congress has been proudly working with a number of districts in support of these efforts for several years. These policies are critical in the work to ensure a safe and successful educational experience for transgender students. In turn, they help entire school communities be lifted up in celebrating all students, regardless of their gender identity or expression.

PineRichlandImageHowever, steps backward are being considered by a few school districts. On Monday evening, another three-hour school board meeting took place in the Pine-Richland School District in Allegheny County.  While transgender students have been supported by the administration in practice, a network of parents has come together to try and strip away the basic accommodations that have been made for them. An informational meeting on transgender youth will take place in Pine-Richland on Thursday. In addition to the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, THRIVE of Southwest PA and Lambda Legal have been standing with students and community members in Pine-Richland who support the rights and dignity of trans students.

With yesterday’s landmark court win in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, transgender students in Pennsylvania now have critical support in the federal courts. In Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board, a trans high school student in Virginia was supported by his administration in basic accommodations, but then the school board enacted a negative policy to strip them away. When challenged in federal court, the student won. The case was remanded to the district court with the determination that gender identity and expression is a protected class.

In 2014, the United States Department of Education issued guidance that gender identity and expression are protected classes under Title IX, through sex stereotyping. Now through Grimm, that guidance has the backing of law through the federal judiciary. This essentially means that students have assurance in successfully bringing a claim or suit against a school for gender identity or expression discrimination.  The ruling yesterday would be persuasive case law for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, where we are in Pennsylvania.

Former University of Pittsburgh – Johnstown student Seamus Johnston filed a federal lawsuit in 2013 against the school for gender identity discrimination, before the United States Department of Education’s guidance was issued. While the suit was first dismissed in the Western District of Pennsylvania by Judge Kim Gibson, on appeal, the university settled the claim in March 2016 in recognition of their major movement forward supporting trans students.

The Pennsylvania Youth Congress has reached out to the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and the Pennsylvania Department of Education to better coordinate the advancement of these policies, and meaningfully support transgender students across the commonwealth. The Pennsylvania Youth Congress calls upon the agencies to collectively address supporting transgender students and awaits their response.

We are incredibly proud of the Great Valley and Springfield Township communities for their historic moves in supporting transgender students, and commend the leadership of Great Valley Board President David Barratt and Superintendent Regina Speaker Palubinsky, and Springfield Township Board President Gretchen Slapinsky and Superintendent Dr. Nancy Hacker, in ensuring the policies was adopted. We thank the Attic Youth Center for recently providing LGBTQ-inclusion training to the Springfield Township district.

If school board members or community members in Pennsylvania are interested in any assistance in advocating for a local school district policy supporting transgender students, they are encouraged to directly reach out to the Pennsylvania Youth Congress at or call 717-743-1035.

NOTE: On April 22, 2016, this online post was updated to reflect that the Great Valley School District adopted their policy on April 18, 2016, before Springfield Township’s on April 19, 2016. Together they are the first known policies in Pennsylvania. In our wording we celebrated Springfield Township as the first widely and publicly known district to take this action, but acknowledge that Great Valley adopted theirs before on Monday once it became widely and publicly known. 


Physician General Dr. Levine on World AIDS Day

Today on World AIDS Day 2015, Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine held a press conference in the State Capitol to highlight the HIV/AIDS healthcare to be advanced in Pennsylvania. The brief event was held in the Capitol Media Center at 3:30pm.

Dr. Levine noted how “World AIDS Day is held on the first of December every year…[as] an opportunity to come together – to show support to those living with HIV, to commemorate those whom we have lost, and to renew our commitment to the prevention and treatment of HIV disease.” She declared that  “If an infection does occur, Pennsylvania is committed that every person diagnosed with HIV has unfettered access to high-quality, life-extending care – free from stigma, and free from discrimination.”

Our Physician General reflected on her personal connection to HIV and AIDS, sharing that:

I actually have a long standing professional connection to the HIV epidemic. I was a resident physician in pediatrics, at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, from 1983 to 1988, right through the beginning of this outbreak and epidemic. At that time, at the beginning, there was no understanding, but eventually, [the] very limited understanding of the disease during the 1980s was significant stigma, and really no treatment. A diagnosis of AIDS at that time was literally a death sentence. We have made such significant progress since that time. But, in 2015, HIV disease continues to be a serious public health problem. Every year, almost 50,000 Americans are newly infected with HIV – with more than 1,000 of them right here in Pennsylvania. HIV affects everyone. Regardless of gender, regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socioeconomic circumstances. We still do see specific segments of our population who experience higher rates of HIV disease. Men who have sex with men [MSM] still represent two-thirds of new HIV infections. Injection drug users now account for nearly one in ten new infections. And young people, aged 13-24, are 16% of the population in general, but account to nearly 26% of all new HIV infections.

As an ambassador for Governor Wolf, she noted how the “[Governor] and this administration take this crisis very seriously. The Wolf Administration is committed to a broad policy to respond to this significant public health problem, with a focus on both reducing infections and improving treatment.”

Stressing the importance of prevention she noted that “The first line of defense is always prevention. The Pennsylvania Department of Health encourages all Pennsylvanians to know their status by getting HIV tested. It is estimated that nearly 20% of those infected with HIV are actually not aware that they are infected.” She emphasized how “the Pennsylvania Department of Health makes HIV testing available at a number of sites through a whole network of providers throughout the state.”

Dr. Levine recognized Governor Wolf’s decision to expand Medicaid and the special pharmaceutical benefit program – which increase the ability for those living with HIV or AIDS to access medical care and medications.

She then praised the “the usage of pre-exposure prophylactics, also called PrEP, for individuals who are at high risk for HIV, is now available…the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, recommends that clinicians offer PREP to those who are at high risk of acquiring HIV infection.”

Dr. Levine concluded her remarks by sharing:

“Our goal is to help Pennsylvanians learn their status and get linked to care. If they fall out of care, if individuals fall out of care, we are committed to working with them, to reconnect them to the medical community and the care that they need. This is not an easy task, and will certainly require a clear plan and clear action. I am very pleased to be working with Secretary of Health Karen Murphy, and Governor Wolf and the administration, on this important initiative. And together, working all together, we will make Pennsylvania a place where all new HIV infections are rare, [where] all HIV+ Pennsylvanians have access to appropriate medication and healthcare, and where all HIV+ Pennsylvanians have a high quality of life.

A reporter then asked Dr. Levine what message Pennsylvanians should take from World AIDS Day, and how much the state spends in addressing HIV and AIDS.

Jose De MarcoFollowing the reporters, Jose de Marco from ACT UP Philadelphia asked Dr. Levine to speak to the social injustice that surrounds addressing HIV and AIDS.

“It’s really wonderful to know that this World AIDS Day that the state of Pennsylvania is going to address HIV and AIDS in this state, but in this day and age it is so much more than people not using a condom. Social injustice issues, especially in poor communities of color, homelessness, poverty, drug addiction – all these things are fueling HIV infections in Latino and African American communities. I think we should be doing a better job with PrEP. I’m from the first generation – I remember the time AIDS activists would be screaming on the roof “there is pill out there that can stop you from getting AIDS!’ But until we start to address social injustice issues – and if you look at incarceration rates of African American and Latino men – there tends to be a mirror of HIV infection. So there is obviously an issue of social injustice – and it’s almost proof positive that HIV is a social injustice in 2015. I’m hopeful the Wolf Administration will take a lot of this into consideration, especially when it comes to HIV infections. Generic medicine is much cheaper than a lifetime of AIDS medication.

Dr. Levine responded by saying that

“I agree that we need to get the word out about PrEP to the populations at risk. We need to get the word out there to physicians and healthcare providers and clinics that PREP exists and that it can prevent this illness in people who are at risk. The word I would use is the social determinants of health. All the different types of issues you have talked about are certainly critical in healthcare in general. In the Department of Health we are working on healthcare innovation, which will try to make sure we will have access for the urban, rural populations that need access to medical care in general, and to HIV prevention, testing, and treatment.”

Levine3The final question was asked by Paul Yabor, another member of ACT UP Philadelphia.

“One of my concerns going forward is in prevention – this is not going to be an easy task. But there are some policy changes that we feel are necessary, and we have the data to back it up, to make this dream come true – to end AIDS in PA. More specifically, a statewide syringe exchange – and it may be a bit out the realm of health, but it’s still relevant, but housing and Medicaid.”

Dr. Levine responded that “I’m not actually prepared to speak on those issues at this time, but we would certainly take all of your recommendations under advisement into the Governor’s office.”

Confirmed as Physician General on June 9, 2015, she is the fifth person to hold the position of the state’s top doctor since it was created in 1996. At the time of this posting, we could not find information on any internal or public World AIDS Day events held by any of her predecessors.

We applaud Dr. Levine and all those in the medical community advocating for increased and responsible healthcare for those living with HIV and AIDS, as well as policy efforts that directly respond to the complex social justice issues that are intertwined with the crisis in Pennsylvania.