Pennsylvania Women: 12 for 2012 – Part One

As we wrap up Women’s History Month 2012, we are reminded to celebrate women in the LGBTQ community today and all throughout the year. PSEC youth have selected 12 women in Pennsylvania who are making it better for LGBTQ youth in our state for this two-part series. Thank you to all of the courageous women below to have made our communities better places for all people!

Lyndsey Sickler (Pittsburgh)
President of the Pittsburgh Gay and Lesbian Community Center
Director of Youth Services at the PERSAD Center

Lyndsey is the current Board President of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh. A native of Western Pennsylvania, Lyndsey has become a central heart of the Pittsburgh LGBTQ community. At the GLCC, she oversees all programming, education and advocacy components to the center. In this volunteer position she advocates every day to strengthen LGBTQA Pittsburgh. Lyndsey is also the Director of Youth Services for the PERSAD Center, the region’s first and largest provider of LGBTQ health services. She works with youth daily to improve the welfare of LGBTQ young people.



Debra McClain (Harrisburg)
President of the Central Pennsylvania Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce

Deb McClain is in the business of getting business done. A veteran business executive, Deb is the new leader of Central PA’s LGBT Chamber of Commerce. In this position she has become a meaningful role model for women business leaders in Central PA. She has helped lead incredible developments with the Chamber in community outreach with LGBTQA-owned businesses, as well as helping have grown the Chamber to even have a member as far as Erie, Pennsylvania. We look forward to the work ahead for Deb in the Chamber. Deb has a positive light which draws those she works with together. We are very thankful for her leadership and support in Central PA!



Roxanne Hitchcock (Oil City)
Main subject in Out in the Silence
Proprietor of the Latonia Ballroom and Event Center

Taking her journey into the public sphere, Roxanne is one of the central characters in the groundbreaking 2009 documentary “Out in the Silence.” The film captures her life being an out lesbian and has been shared with thousands of people on PBS and film screenings across the nation and around the world. She continues to be the main proprietor of the Latonia Ballroom and Event Center. Her dedication to supporting the rural NWPA LGBTQ community shows through her leadership of LBT Women of Erie and various programming in the region, including events through the Latonia. She is a community force for good and supports youth in her work.



Carrie Jacobs (Philadelphia)
Founding Executive Director of the Attic Youth Center

Carrie is the founding Executive Director of the Attic Youth Center, Philadelphia’s LGBTQ youth community center. Carrie has been instrumental in improving the lives of thousands of LGBTQ youth throughout the city. She helped create a safe space for queer youth in an ‘attic’ nearly 20 years ago and has since led the Attic Youth Center to become one of the most comprehensive LGBTQ youth centers in the nation. For those of us who have met Carrie, we know she is incredibly modest about her work. We must commend her for helping so many of us youth through her groundbreaking support with the Attic. While the journey to make it better for LGBTQ youth continues, we are ever thankful and proud that Carrie is at the helm at the Attic.



Jeanine Rusham and Kristy Snow (Central PA)
President and Vice-President of TransCentral PA

Jeanine and Kristy are the President and Vice-President of TransCentral PA. The regional organization is a nexus of support and community for transgender people in Central PA and their allies. Through their many programs, meetings and outreach efforts, TransCentral PA has become a national model of regional support for transgender and gender-variant people. TransCentral PA annually hosts an International Transgender Day of Remember event on the steps of the Pennsylvania capitol and the Keystone Conference in Harrisburg, which has become the third largest transgender focused conference in the nation. The Keystone Conference is currently underway in Harrisburg! They have a strong commitment to supporting transgender youth including outreach for the Keystone Conference and their events throughout the year.


Gloria Casarez (Philadelphia)
Director of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia

Gloria Casarez is the first Director of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia. A highly effective community leader – she represents LGBTQA Philadelphians in the Mayor’s office with outreach and policy. Before her appointment to the Mayor’s administration, Gloria was the Executive Director of the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative (GALAEI), a founding organizer of the Philadelphia Dyke March, a former Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of Prevention Point Philadelphia, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Bread and Roses Community Fund. She regularly speaks to young people across the city about the importance of advocacy, community, and empowerment through multiple identities. Gloria is a person who we believe represents the best of Philadelphia in our government and is a true inspiration to so many of us youth. We are proud of Gloria for her leadership in City Hall!

‘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.