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No more ‘councilmen?’ Council votes for gender-neutral titles  

No more ‘councilmen?’ Council votes for gender-neutral titles  

Josh Middleton    February 14, 2019

In a show of unanimous support, members of City Council passed legislation Thursday that would change language in the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter to be more gender neutral.   Voters will ultimately decide the issue as a ballot...

Mark My Words

Elections and whom to support

Mark Segal    February 14, 2019

Once upon a time, the LGBT community had no LGBT choices in politics, only LGBT-friendly candidates, who weren’t LGBT themselves, to endorse. And, once upon a time, there were no LGBT...

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West Philly’s Mariposa Food Co-op sets the table for inclusiveness

Local

West Philly’s Mariposa Food Co-op sets the table for inclusiveness

Suzannah Cavanaugh    February 14, 2019

 Founded on antidiscrimination ideals, cooperatives have a storied history as LGBTQ havens. “It’s pretty ingrained in the culture. [Co-ops] have been known as safe spaces for queer folks since probably the...

Second council ally not seeking reelection

Local

Second council ally not seeking reelection

Lenny Cohen    February 14, 2019

 Philadelphia Councilman-at-Large Bill Greenlee announced that he will not seek reelection, paving the way for another new City Council member. “After giving it much thought, I have decided this will be...

Are dating apps helpful or hurtful?

Local

Are dating apps helpful or hurtful?

Gary L. Day    February 14, 2019

 As social media has proliferated in recent years, more and more gay men are turning to dating apps like Grindr and Scruff for personal connections, be they casual sexual encounters...

Local LGBTQ health organizations get a financial boost

Local

Local LGBTQ health organizations get a financial boost

Lenny Cohen    February 14, 2019

CHECK, PLEASE!: LBGT-specific HIV agencies across the area were recently awarded thousands of dollars from two different contributors. Coca-Cola (left) presented Action Wellness PHL Executive Director Kevin Burns with a...

Bleak forecast for LGBTQ elder housing

Regional

Bleak forecast for LGBTQ elder housing

A.D. Amorosi    February 14, 2019

A portrait of the future for LGBTQ elder adults indicates that by 2030 there will be seven million LGBTQ senior citizens living in the United States, according to the results...

Future uncertain for city’s safe-injection site 

Local

Future uncertain for city’s safe-injection site 

Josh Middleton    February 12, 2019

Philadelphia was inching closer to becoming the first city in the United States to open a safe-injection site to address the city’s opioid crisis. But the project has hit a...

Media Trail

National

Media Trail

Larry Nichols    February 7, 2019

Trans teacher sues DC-area district, citing discrimination A transgender English teacher is suing a Maryland school district claiming that she was repeatedly harassed by students, parents and colleagues at three schools...

International News

International

International News

Larry Nichols    February 7, 2019

Hong Kong court denies male status to three transgender men Hong Kong’s High Court has refused to allow three transgender men to be recognized as males on their official identity cards...

Pennsylvania poised to carry on momentum in LGBTQ aging

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This past October, the LGBT Elder Initiative came together with state officials, healthcare professionals, aging services providers and LGBTQ older Pennsylvanians at the 2018 LGBTQ Aging Summit. Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, the summit sought to address many of the issues facing LGBTQ elder communities and to share best practices for professionals working with LGBTQ populations. Summit content identified policy priorities related to LGBTQ aging and developed recommendations to improve the lives of LGBTQ older Pennsylvanians.

It was the first-ever statewide event in Pennsylvania dedicated to LGBTQ aging issues, and one of the first statewide LGBTQ aging events in the country. Numerous partners from across the state — including LGBTQ-serving non-profits, aging services providers and state agencies — joined together for the planning of the summit. With more than 300 people in attendance, it was inspiring to see the passion of individuals from across the Commonwealth dedicated to making LGBTQ aging issues a statewide priority.

A few months prior, Gov. Tom Wolf announced the formation of the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs, signing an executive order that made Pennsylvania the only state in the country to have a standing commission dedicated to LGBTQ issues. The role of the commission is to help coordinate efforts taking place across Pennsylvania for greater equality for LGBTQ people. Included among the 40 Commissioners appointed by the governor are several LGBTQ older adults and aging advocates.  
Between the summit and the seating of this commission, there is great momentum for addressing the issues that impact LGBTQ older adults. There is also now an infrastructure in place to be better able to do so.

At its first meeting, the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs authorized the creation of an LGBTQ Aging Workgroup. The workgroup is being chaired by Commissioner Joanne Carroll and Heshie Zinman with support from the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs, Todd Snovel.   
The Aging Workgroup will be able to augment the work being done by the commission and be a voice specifically for LGBTQ older Pennsylvanians. Additionally, the workgroup will be able to provide recommendations to state agencies that are responsible for administering services to older adults, such as the Department of Aging, Department of Health and Department of Human Services.

Some of the issues that affect LGBTQ elders will require the passage of legislation. The Pennsylvania Fairness Act, for example, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under the state’s nondiscrimination law, would need to be passed by the Pennsylvania House and Senate before it can be signed into law.
However, other issues can be addressed through changes to policies and procedures within state agencies. For example, a priority of the workgroup is to improve the ways that data on sexual orientation and gender identity is collected. Currently, most state agencies do not track data on sexual orientation and treat gender as a male/female binary. Beginning to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identities beyond the male/female binary would allow agencies to better understand the needs of LGBTQ people and how they are — or aren’t —receiving services.

Additional efforts can take place through influencing state agencies’ strategic priorities for community outreach, training, funding and service delivery. Every four years, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging prepares its State Plan on Aging, which acts as a blueprint for serving the Commonwealth’s older adult population, identifying priorities for enhancing programs, delivering services and allocating resources.

This year, the Department of Aging will begin crafting its State Plan for 2020-2024. The Aging Workgroup — along with organizations and advocates across Pennsylvania — will need to make our voices heard to keep LGBTQ aging issues on the forefront. Ensuring that the new State Plan sufficiently addresses the needs of our LGBTQ older adults will be an essential step in carrying on the great momentum that has been building over the past year.


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