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Anderson Apartments assault and robbery victim tells his story

Anderson Apartments assault and robbery victim tells his story

Lenny Cohen    April 16, 2019

“Now the only thing I feel about Philadelphia is it’s not safe.” Those are the words of the longtime city man who was reported to have been attacked, sexually assaulted and...

Mark My Words

History comes full circle

Mark Segal    April 18, 2019

Last Sunday as I sat on my couch watching TV, I found myself in tears. A man I have never met, a very out gay man, was live on CNN...

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One less hurdle for crime victims’ rights in PA

Regional

One less hurdle for crime victims’ rights in PA

Tim Cwiek    April 18, 2019

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has approved legislation that would amend the state constitution to include specific protections for crime victims and their families. The initiative was approved April 8 in...

Court strips ex-judge of  law license

Local

Court strips ex-judge of law license

Tim Cwiek    April 18, 2019

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court last week ordered the suspension of Dawn Segal’s law license for one year and a day. Segal, an open lesbian, served as a municipal-court judge in Philadelphia for...

Silent, no more: GLSEN comes to Philly

Local

Silent, no more: GLSEN comes to Philly

A.D. Amorosi    April 18, 2019

At the end of an overcast Friday afternoon, teens with rainbow stickers on their cheeks, advocate mothers with ‘X’s painted across their lips, city and state representatives filled with anger...

Bullied fifth-grader takes own life

Local

Bullied fifth-grader takes own life

Josh Middleton    April 18, 2019

 A family in Southwest Philadelphia is mourning the loss of an 11-year-old who they say died by suicide after he and his brother faced constant bullying at their school. Phillip Spruill...

Media Trail: April 19-25, 2019

National

Media Trail: April 19-25, 2019

Larry Nichols    April 17, 2019

Morehouse College to take transgender students CNN reports the country’s only all-male historically black college will begin admitting transgender men next year. The move marks a major shift for Morehouse College at...

Oxford University to rethink degree given to Brunei sultan

International

Oxford University to rethink degree given to Brunei sultan

Larry Nichols    April 11, 2019

The University of Oxford says it will reconsider an honorary degree it awarded the Sultan of Brunei following the outcry over new Islamic laws that punish gay sex and adultery...

Canadian man claims Marshalls store fired him because of his sexuality

International

Canadian man claims Marshalls store fired him because of his sexuality

Larry Nichols    April 11, 2019

A gay man from Oshawa, Ontario in Canada claimed that he was fired from his job in retail chain Marshalls because they “didn’t like” him and were looking for a...

Vatican receives lawyers opposed to criminalization of gays

International

Vatican receives lawyers opposed to criminalization of gays

Larry Nichols    April 11, 2019

A group of international lawyers researching the criminalization of homosexuality has met with the Vatican secretary of state and urged the Holy See to publicly oppose such laws and “conversion”...

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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