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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 a 190-8 vote and is headed for the state Senate Judiciary Committee, where it’s expected to receive a favorable vote. The full Senate is expected to approve the measure before it goes to voters on Nov. 5.

The amendment would enshrine within Pennsylvania’s constitution a “bill of rights” for crime victims, including the right to be notified of all court proceedings; to give input before a plea agreement is finalized; to be heard at sentencing and parole hearings; to receive financial restitution from the offender; and to regain personal belongings when they’re no longer needed as evidence.

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 about six years until she was forced to leave the bench in 2016 due to improper conversations with another judge. The following year, she was permanently barred from holding judicial office.

Segal, 59, worked as a personal-injury attorney based in West Mount Airy after she was removed from the bench. The suspension of her law license goes into effect May 9.

Under state law, she can apply to the state Supreme Court for reinstatement. However, the reinstatement process is arduous and expensive, with no guarantee of success.

In a reversal of its decision, the Philadelphia Historical Commission voted to list a former bathhouse on the city’s Register of Historic Places.

This designation also is historic for another reason: It marks the first time that a building in Philadelphia will be listed, at least in part, because of a historical connection to the LGBTQ community.

The building once known as the Camac Baths sits on the southeast corner of Camac and Chancellor streets, between 12th and 13th streets, in the heart of the Gayborhood.

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 and pride, out principals and educators, and young LGBTQ student leaders gathered at the School District of Philadelphia Building for a welcoming party.

All were in attendance on North Broad’s District auditorium to usher in the long-awaited GLSEN Philly outpost (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), and its organization devoted to creating safe and inclusive spaces in schools for LGBTQ students. The School District of Philadelphia may have taken powerful steps to codify all the rights of gay, transgender and gender non-conforming student into official district policy; GLSEN helps ensure those steps and safeties are enacted.

A protester allegedly set off a fire alarm and evacuated a college hall as a prominent speaker was addressing the public.

University of the Arts student Joseph McAndrew organized a campus protest April 9 when Professor Camille Paglia was scheduled to speak.

McAndrew, a nonbinary film-writing and television major, said Paglia had insulted the transgender community and sexual-assault victims many times, citing a YouTube video in which Paglia questions the validity of sexual assault victims who do not report crimes immediately. Paglia is heard saying, “If a real rape was committed, go freakin’ report it to the police.”

McAndrew said, “I find that she’s been able to go about being controversial with little repercussions, especially lately.”

 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 Jr., a fifth grader at Benjamin B. Comegys Elementary, ended his life April 5 in his Bartram Village home.

Spruill’s grandmother, Linda Lash-Smith, 56, told PGN that her grandson wasn’t a model student. He was a fighter. He had been suspended 15 times between November and March because he was involved in physical altercations on school grounds — but she said he had to fight to defend himself and his younger brother, who was harassed and threatened for being too “effeminate.”

Sherrie Cohen has decided to drop out of the race for Philadelphia City Council-at-Large following a public disagreement between her campaign manager and fellow LGBTQ candidate Deja Lynn Alvarez.

On March 26, the campaign manager, Abdul-Aliy Muhammad, heckled Alvarez as she was speaking to a crowd of supporters at a Trans Day of Visibility rally at City Hall.

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 a time when higher education institutions around the nation are adopting more welcoming policies toward LGBTQ students.

“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 robbed by two men outside the John C. Anderson Apartments, last Friday, April 12.

The alleged victim, a 69-year-old gay man who lives in the Anderson Apartments at 251 S. 13 St., spoke to PGN on April 17 in order to set the record straight on some reporting and offer more specific information.

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