Bucks County Transgender High School Student Ends His Life

On Tuesday afternoon, 17-year old high school student Riley Moscatel ended his life in Bucks County. The rising senior at Bucks County Technical High School placed himself in front of an Amtrak train heading for New York City at approximately 1:30pm this afternoon.

Riley’s mother, Kristine Moscatel, said in the Bucks County Courier Times that “things were just building up and building up and she just couldn’t take it anymore. She hid behind her mask. She had a mask for me, my husband, my son, my parents…everyone she had a different face for, but they were all happy (faces).” Riley was referred to as a “rising star” in the commercial and advertising arts program at Bucks County Technical High School by school officials in the article.

Both the LevittownNow and Bucks County Courier Times misgendered Riley in their reports. LevittownNow updated their online post to reflect his correct pronouns. The current headline by the Bucks County Courier Times and the Intelligencer is “Mom ‘heartbroken’ over daughter’s suicide by train.

No one is alone in experiencing depression, anxiety, or distress. If you or any LGBT youth you know ever need someone to talk with, we encourage you to call the Trevor Project at 866-488-7386.



(Contributed by Kristine Moscatel/Bucks County Courier Times)

In Pennsylvania, there are no school district or state policies which specifically affirm transgender students. PSEC is currently working to advance local and state policies to provide comprehensive support for transgender students in public schools.

Riley’s friends and family will release balloons at the Croydon Train Station in his memory this coming Sunday afternoon.

Bloomsburg Town Council to Consider Non-Discrimination Ordinance

On Monday evening, the Bloomsburg Town Council addressed the local movement urging them to adopt a non-discrimination ordinance to protect LGBT people from discrimination in public accommodations, housing, and employment. Last week, national outrage was sparked when WW Bridal denied service to an engaged lesbian couple in the town.

The Town Council chamber was packed to capacity this evening, with nearly 30 additional people forced to crowd in the doorways and into the hallways because of fire code regulations. We could not tell if the crowd was mostly against, for, or split on supporting non-discrimination. In total, over 70 residents were in attendance for the meeting, most of whom came specifically for the discussion on non-discrimination.

Dwayne Heisler, a resident of the town, was the only registered speaker during the citizen’s comment period to address this issue. Mayor Sandy Davis and Councilmembers Diane Levan and Eric Bower spoke strongly in support of such a local law. All three members of Town Council are Democrats won their elections running as both Republicans and Democrats.

BloomsburgMayor Davis concluded her brief and prepared remarks by stating that,

“We live in a world, and in a country, where we try to treat everyone equally and fairly. This is a discussion we need to have. There is a process. We will pass this on to the Community and Economic Development Committee in order to explore our various options to make sure all sides of this issue are equally and fairly recognized.”

Councilmember Bower followed by sharing, “I think it’s important we band together against discrimination of any kind, whether it is based on sexual orientation, or race, or any other protected class.

They did not provide a full timetable other than Councilmember Levan agreeing to place a draft ordinance on the agenda for the next meeting of the Community and Economic Development Committee. The ordinance could come before the Town Council for a first reading as soon as late September.

The GSA of Bloomsburg University’s PSEC Delegate, Kyle Boyes, was in attendance tonight with PSEC Executive Director Jason Landau Goodman. Kyle was unable to speak during the open comment period because of a stringent rule which requires citizens to register the week before the meeting – which was as the situation was unfolding. Kyle shared with the Keystone Student Voice that, “I have high hopes that the ordinance will be passed. We plan to work with the Town government on this issue and make sure that they see support on this from the student and youth communities in Bloomsburg.”

Packed RoomEarlier on Monday, the Bloomsburg University GSA and PSEC sent a joint letter to all the Town Council members to ask for their serious consideration of adopting an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance. The organizations offered any resources and support they may need through the process of banning anti-LGBT discrimination in Town policy. Several PSEC leaders have been helping lead local non-discrimination ordinance work in their home communities since 2009, before the coalition formed.

When Bloomsburg University resumes for the fall semester, it will be in time for the next meeting when the ordinance will be brought up. GSA leaders will certainly be in attendance to directly voice their support as young members of the Bloomsburg community.

Bloomsburg is the only Town in Pennsylvania, and operates similar to a borough government. In total, there are 2,562 municipalities in Pennsylvania which are either cities, boroughs, or townships, or a town. 33 municipalities in the state have adopted a local non-discrimination ordinance inclusive of gender identity and sexual orientation. The Keystone State has the most number of individually adopted LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances without a statewide law banning LGBT discrimination.

Whitpain Township Passes Resolution in Support of LGBTQ Equality

Whitpain Township officials passed a resolution confirming their support of LGBTQ equality measures in the Pennsylvania Legislature on March 18, stating that they are in favor of any action or legislation “to ensure that all persons, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, enjoy the full benefits of citizenship and are afforded equal opportunities for employment, housing, public and private contracts and the use of public accommodations.”

The resolution was first discussed at a February 18th meeting, when Supervisor Ken Wollman proposed that the township pass an LGBTQ inclusive non-discrimination ordinance. The Times Herald reported that fellow board members were supportive of LGBTQ equality measures, but felt that the issue was best left up to the state government. The board’s operations committee then began drafting the resolution to urge the state government to take action.

Whitpain is located within Montgomery County, in close proximity to Norristown. Montgomery County officials announced in March of 2013 that they are currently exploring the possibility of passing a county-wide LGBTQ inclusive non-discrimination ordinance.

Had Whitpain passed an LGBTQ inclusive non-discrimination ordinance, it would have been the 34th municipality in the state to do so. A non-discrimination ordinance was passed in Downingtown on Wednesday, March 19, making it the 33rd municipality in the state to protect LGBTQ citizens in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

Another Matthew Shepard article

Another year, another Matthew Shepard article

The murder of Matthew Shepard was 14 years ago yesterday. In 1998 I was eight years old, probably had a vague idea that there was such a thing as being “gay”, and would not learn about Matthew Shepard for years to come. I would not have known that he was raped three years prior to his murder, contributing to drugs and depressions in his college years. I would not known that he was robbed, tortured, assaulted severely, and tied to a fence to die by two people who had said they would give him a ride home. I would not have known about the Westboro Baptist Church; that they held signs at his funeral saying “Fag Matt in Hell.”

The controversy of the ensuing trial has been well documented: the defendants’ attempt at a “gay panic defense” [claiming to have been made psychotic by the offensiveness of a gay sexual advance]; inability to prosecute as a hate-crime. Ultimately, McKinney and Henderson both received life-sentences, which seems fair to me. And yet discussion of Matthew Shepard continues.

Yesterday evening a close friend shared with me a powerfully emotional spoken-word poem, “Eleven Years” by Sierra DeMulder (written last year). It is highly worth a listen for anyone who enjoys spoken word. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5RbcdO38pk) DeMulder vividly describes how Shepard was found tied to a post, mistaken for a scarecrow, and makes an emotional connection with her family.

Would there be any difference from 1998 Wyoming to 2012 Pennsylvania? In a sense, Matthew Shepard’s case has had an impact here, as area universities have staged productions of The Laramie Project and his case has been written about in a myriad articles like this one. What hasn’t changed is that people are still dying for being LGBTQ. Let’s hope that there will never be another case quite as gruesome as Matthew Shepard’s. Let’s also not forget about the bullying and harassment that had lead Pennsylvanians to take their owns lives. And once we combat bullying, let’s not stop until we have combated homelessness and inaccessible healthcare and all of the other barriers to safe and meaningful lives for the everyone in the LGBTQ community.

Ben Safran is a senior at Haverford College in Delaware County, PA. He can be reached at bsafran@haverford.edu.

‘Nova on LGBT Inclusion

Villanova University hosts Community Forum on LGBT Inclusion

University President Addresses the Campus Community Regarding the Canceled Event with Tim Miller

Villanova, PA — The Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition (PSEC) was in attendance at a Tuesday night meeting put together by a Villanova student and addressed by university president Father Peter Donohue.

The two hour meeting, which hosted upwards of 200 students, faculty members and administration officials, served as a direct response to last week’s abrupt cancelation of openly gay performance artist Tim Miller’s previously scheduled week-long workshop.

“I apologize to members of the community who felt offended,” Donohue said. “That was not our intent.”

Father Donohue continued to clarify that he had learned of the event on Feb. 10, and decided to cancel the event after two weeks of receiving a “flood” of emails from alumni and parents as well as noted backlash from Catholic watchdog group the Cardinal Newman Society. The reverend also expressed that the decision was based on anticipated uproar in the larger community and a lack of time to “wrap around a unified message,” but nonetheless asserts that the decision was in no way made because Miller is gay.

“We are not a homophobic institution,” he said. “I am not homophobic; it is not something we should stand for…if that is evident, I need to know that, and we’ll address it.” He went on to speak about inclusion of LGBT members of the Villanova community: “my first priority is supporting the community, all of the community; the nature of the gospel calls us to do that.” He continues to state that “if any of us are being singled out or discriminated against – first, foremost, and strongly we will deal with it.”

Heidi Rose, assistant professor of communications at Villanova and organizer of the canceled event, urged the university to issue a direct apology to Miller.

“[Tim] is desperately hurt and outraged,” Rose said. “We own him an apology… if we are going to be Augustinian we need to address this.”

PSEC commends Father Donohue for taking accountability and creating dialogue between administration officials and members of the Villanova community. PSEC hopes that, going forward, the university administration will continue to stand behind its LGBT members who so desperately rely on them as a proponent of acceptance and equality.

Discrimination at Villanova?

Discrimination at Villanova University?

Villanova, PA—The Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition (PSEC) is deeply disappointed by Villanova University’s regressive decision on Monday to cancel revered LGBTQ performance artist Tim Miller’s scheduled appearance at the university, and calls on administration officials to reconsider their stance.

“To be in line with their own mission, which is laid-out as being ‘in search for world peace and justice,’ and to ‘fully comply with all the requirements of federal and state legislation with respect to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination,’ the Villanova University administration should reverse its decision to deny its students the opportunity for exploration and learning within the Catholic tradition,” PSEC Executive Director Jason Landau Goodman said.

Designed to be an informal, week-long workshop on the changing culture of diversity and the continuing importance of feeling comfortable with self-identity, Miller has performed at some of the nation’s most prestigious universities, including DePaul University, the Chicago-based Catholic school where Miller was reported to be warmly received by both students and faculty.

PSEC is disheartened by Villanova’s seeming allowance of politics and prejudice to overshadow what media outlets nationwide have praised as a thought-provoking and impactful experience for young college students.

Julia Arduini, co-head of Villanova’s Gay Straight Coalition and a co-founder of PSEC, expresses particular discouragement as an otherwise proud student and member of the Main Line community.

“For the past four years, I have felt incredibly supported as a gay student at Villanova University,” Arduini said. “This is out of line with my positive experience as a student; this is the first time I’ve been unsupported by my own school.”

PSEC will continue to monitor the controversy as new details emerge.

PSEC leaders at Villanova releasing balloons marking the end of the Day of Silence – April 2011


OITS Controversy in Dallastown

‘Out in the Silence’ Screening Sparks Controversy in Dallastown

YORK, PA -The Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition (PSEC) continues to monitor an unfolding controversy in Dallastown, Pa. involving a contested screening of Emmy-award winning documentary film “Out in the Silence.”

The screening, which was hosted by Dallastown Area High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) on Jan. 25, struck a chord with former Dallastown school board member Carroll Tignall, who has expressed fears of a “covert” agenda on the part of local LGBTQ activists, according to the York Dispatch. Before the screening, the York Dispatch ran an article highlighting hateful comments and actions generated by Tignall and others in Dallastown.

“They aren’t supposed to be interfering with parental authority,” Tignall said.

The next day, the York Dispatch published a groundbreaking editorial in support of the GSA. Most recently, a homophobic letter to the editor was published in the York Dispatch by a local parent who attended the screening.

PSEC stands behind the Dallastown High School GSA and its brave efforts to combat intolerance in its community. Bullying of any kind is considered unacceptable, and PSEC rejects accusations that the club or the school’s administration officials have crossed any boundaries. Administration officials are commended for supporting the GSA’s efforts to address the all too common conflicts in rural communities over acceptance of LGBTQ youth.

“In this ordeal, Dallastown has shown it is on the front lines of creating safer communities for LGBTQ youth in Pennsylvania – a meaningful film screening took place and good prevailed,” PSEC Executive Director Jason Landau Goodman said. “With every positive conversation this screening of ‘Out in the Silence’ has sparked in the Central PA region, another step is taken toward inclusion and respect of all people.”

One such conversation includes courageous comments by an editor of the York Dispatch, who highlighted the fragile state of LGBTQ youth and declared to critics that they should “leave the gay-straight club alone.”

And despite reports from attendees of being turned away following the event, a PSEC high school student leader from a neighboring community in York County noted the event’s uplifting nature and emphasis on positivity. PSEC will continue to support Dallastown’s GSA as tensions continue to rise.