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.

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)

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.

World AIDS Day 2015

World AIDS Day has been held each year since 1988 for communities to come together in combating HIV. Events will be held throughout Pennsylvania to demonstrate support for those living with HIV and honor those who have died.

For World AIDS Day 2015, the following public LGBTQ-related community events will take place in Pennsylvania:

Pearls and Bow Ties Evening Social
Thursday, December 3rd – 7:00pm
Stage on Herr
Hosts: Alder Health Services, LGBT Center of Central PA, and Gaudenzia Inc.
More Information

Over 20 events the week of December 1st
Philly Magazine has a listing of 21 events here

World AIDS Day Commemoration
Tuesday, December 1st – 7:30pm
Heinz Memorial Chapel
Host: The Pitt Men’s Study
More Information

HIV/AIDS has just turned 30 years old and Pennsylvania continues to be one of the most impacted states in the nation (CDC 2009).

The CDC recently reported that the rate of infection among gay and bisexual men in on the rise – especially in young men of color. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has useful factsheets on HIV in disproportionately impacted communities: HIV and African Americans | HIV and Latinos/Hispanics | HIV and Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) (Gay, Bisexual men) | HIV and Transgender People | HIV and Youth

A recent CDC study found that one in five urban gay/bisexual men in America are HIV positive, and only half of those infected are aware of their status. We continue today in the HIV/AIDS crisis – hoping for the resources to have an HIV free generation. Supporting HIV/AIDS awareness, education and support all throughout the year is absolutely critical.

HIV/AIDS Resources in Pennsylvania
Keystone Health (Chambersburg)
The Northwest PA Rural AIDS Alliance (Clarion, Erie)
AIDS Community Alliance (Harrisburg)
Action AIDS (Philadelphia)
ACT UP – Philadelphia (Philadelphia)
AIDS Fund (Philadelphia)
AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)
The Attic Youth Center (Philadelphia)
GALAEI – The Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative (Philadelphia)
Philadelphia FIGHT (Philadelphia)
Safegaurds (Philadelphia)
AIDS Coalition of Southwestern Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh)
Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force (Pittsburgh)
Project Silk (Pittsburgh)
Shepard Wellness Community (Pittsburgh)
Adagio Health (Western PA)
The Northeastern Regional HIV Planning Coalition (Wilkes-Barre)

General LGBTQ Healthcare Providers
The Mazzoni Center (Philadelphia)
Alder Health Care (Harrisburg)
PERSAD (Pittsburgh)


To add an event to the listing in this post, please email

Image: GLAAD

PYC and GLSEN: Criminalization of Cyberbullying is the Wrong Move for PA

Statement from the Pennsylvania Youth Congress on the General Assembly Passage of HB 229
Criminalization of Cyberbullying Expected to Harm Minority Youth Most

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Youth Congress expresses its concern with the unanimous passage on Monday of HB 229 from the State Senate. The legislation, championed by Rep. Ron Marsico (R-105), was approved by the State House of Representatives in a 193-5 vote in February 2015, and now awaits approval from Governor Wolf. The cyber-harassment bill provides for the specific criminalization of sexual-based cyberbullying – by both adults toward minors, and minors toward other minors.

The Pennsylvania Youth Congress recognizes the importance of diverse legal methods in addressing bullying and harassment. However, criminalization laws directed toward young people often are disproportionately and misapplied to youth of color, LGBT youth, and youth with disabilities. Further, the Pennsylvania Youth Congress calls for increased efforts toward bullying prevention and positive behavior support, to curb this type of behavior from occurring in the first place.

The Pennsylvania Youth Congress lauds the intentions and hard work of Rep. Marsico and others supporting this legislation. While HB 229 includes a provision for youth to be directed to a “diversionary program” before being placed into the juvenile justice system, school safety data does not provide evidence that it will be evenly applied to minority youth.

In the rush to criminalize this behavior, we tend to pull ourselves away from meaningful violence prevention,” said Jason Landau Goodman, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Youth Congress. “We are failing as a state when we prioritize reactive crime bills over proactive legislation to help secure positive futures for young Pennsylvanians. We need to send students engaging with this destructive behavior to school support staff – not funnel more into prison.

“Bullying and harassment in schools should be addressed through proactive approaches to improving school climate,” said Nathan Smith, GLSEN’s Director of Public Policy. “We are disappointed that the Pennsylvania legislature has chosen to address these serious issues through the criminal justice system.

“GLSEN does not support policies that criminalize youth, particularly when those policies disproportionately affect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, who are three times as likely to have been involved with the criminal or juvenile justice system as a result of school-related infractions.

The United States Department of Education – Office of Civil Rights found that there exists a significant racial discrepancy between students being referred to law enforcement (Civil Rights Data Collection 2014). Additionally, their report identified Pennsylvania was among 11 states in the country which have a rate higher than the national average of suspending more black students than white students. While non-white students comprised less than 30% of the Pennsylvania public school enrollment in 2011-2012 school year, the Office of Civil Rights identified that 93% of out-of-school suspensions were issued to them. Both black and hispanic Pennsylvania students were more than twice as likely to face suspension as were their white peers.

The Pennsylvania Youth Congress joins with the Pennsylvania Safe Schools Partnership, in a renewed call for the General Assembly to vote on the Pennsylvania Safe Schools (PASS) Act, HB 156. The PASS Act is the most supported safe school bill in state history, which garnered 106 co-sponsors last session in the House. HB 156 awaits action in the House Education Committee.


Celebrate Marriage Equality Today in Pennsylvania!



This morning, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled, in a 5-4 decision, that marriage equality is guaranteed under the Constitution. Every state in the county must now allow marriage equality, and recognize same-sex unions performed outside their borders. This is a watershed moment in the LGBTQ rights movement. We know there is tremendous work to continue – and that we are far from securing freedom and justice for LGBTQ people. Today, we celebrate. Join LGBTQ communities across the state tonight in rejoicing in this landmark decision!

The Erie County Courthouse
140 West 6th Street, Erie, PA
Host: NWPA Pride Alliance

The Pennsylvania State Capitol Building Steps
3rd and State Streets, Harrisburg, PA
Host: Capital Region Stonewall Democrats

Northeastern PA
The Tomato Bar
7 Tomato Fest Drive, Pittston, PA
Host: NEPA Rainbow Alliance

Independence Mall
Market and 5th Streets, Philadelphia, PA
Organizers Include: The William Way Community Center, HRC Philadelphia

Ellsworth Avenue/Shadyside District
5800 Ellsworth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA
Organizers Include: The Delta Foundation

Penn Street Bridge
Host: Reading Pride Celebrates

Bethlehem Area School District Adds Gender Identity and Gender Expression to District Policies

The Bethlehem Area School District Board of School Directors unanimously voted to add “gender identity and gender expression” as protected characteristics under the district’s nondiscrimination policies and unlawful harassment policies at a school board meeting on Monday, April 20. The district previously only provided protections for LGBT individuals based upon sexual orientation.

Bethlehem Area School District is now the seventh school district in Pennsylvania to adopt nondiscrimination protections for transgender students, joining Pittsburgh Public Schools, Allentown School District, State College Area School District, Abington School District, New Hope-Solebury School District and Lower Merion School District.

School Board Director Basilio A. Bonilla Jr. led efforts to protect transgender individuals within the district. Bonilla said that he was aware of several transgender students within the district, and upon reviewing the district’s policies, saw that these students had no protection from discrimination under current policy. After consulting with LGBT community leaders, Bonilla contacted the district’s superintendent to discuss amending the policy. Following two initial readings at previous Board of School Directors meetings, the policy was voted upon and passed by a 9-0 vote. “Last night Democrats, Republicans, and an Independent came together to protect the rights of all students, and that is something I am really proud of as a Board Member,” Bonilla told the Keystone Student Voice on Tuesday.

Bonilla said that he intends to continue to advocate for the district’s LGBT students. “We’re not done yet,” he stated. “We need be there to support our kids.” He hopes to establish training for the district’s sports coaching staff on working with LGBT students and to implement a transgender inclusive nondiscrimination policy in the Bethlehem Area Vocational Technical School, which serves Bethlehem Area, Saucon Valley, and Northampton Area School Districts.

Bonilla came out as bisexual in March of 2014. He is the first openly LGBT elected official in Bethlehem. In his first year as a School Board Director, he worked with the district’s health insurance provider to offer benefits to same-sex spouses of faculty and staff before marriage equality was legalized in Pennsylvania.

Photo: Express-Times