The Time for Equality is Now

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

January 12, 2022

Discrimination is still commonplace for LGBTQ+ Americans. Opponents of LGBTQ+ equality continue to file discriminatory bills in states across the country in an attempt to undermine existing protections in adoption, marriage and access to basic public services and businesses. Full federal nondiscrimination protections like the ones outlined in the Equality Act would ensure that all LGBTQ+ Americans can live, work, and access public spaces free from discrimination, no matter what state they call home. 

The nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute recently found that national support for the Equality Act is around 83 percent. This is the strongest level of support the bill has ever seen.  We must tell lawmakers that now is the time to pass this legislation. 

Take action today by contacting your senators by email or phone and telling them to pass federal nondiscrimination protections.  It’s so easy – just a few clicks will get it done. 

Get started now.

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition Opening New HEART House

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

January 11, 2022

We are beyond thrilled and honored to announce that with the amazing help of our community, we are reopening our LGBTQ+ affirming HEART (Homelessness Emergency Assistance & Response Team) house in the next few weeks!

HEART will house five LGBTQ residents struggling with homelessness, housing insecurity, and non-affirming situations, and provide them with programming, job assistance, and loving support. The Coalition will also work with community partners to offer enrichment training, such as budgeting, health resources, and other life skills.

HEART also offers a warm-handoff service to housing and medical services to provide emotional support for program participants. To further ensure resource providers are capable of providing culturally competent services, we provide cultural competency training to community stakeholders and potential partners around serving the LGBTQ+ population.

Now that we have hired a Director of Programming to manage the program and volunteers, HEART will expand to work with persons experiencing homelessness on the streets to help them access safe and inclusive housing, and mitigate their vulnerability to COVID-19 by providing PPE, hand sanitizer and resources.

At this time, we are unable to offer emergency crisis shelter. Applicants must have some form of income and have the ability to manage their general needs and safety. If you are in need of immediate shelter call crisis intervention at (717) 394-2631 or 211.

Apply for Residence »
Information for sponsors »

About the HEART Program:
There is a housing crisis in Lancaster County and extremely limited LGBTQ+ affirming housing. Over 70% of our Pandemic Relief Emergency Fund recipients reported housing and rental assistance as their primary need. Currently there are no fully affirming shelters in Lancaster County and bed availability is scarce.

On February 1, 2021, the HEART Program opened its 6-month pilot low-cost housing location, offering individuals sheltering in unaffirming environments a chance to live in a supportive home. The Coalition helps subsidize rent according to each person’s individual needs and works with community partners to offer enrichment training, such as budgeting, health resources, and other life skills.

Aging with Pride: IDEA-Program for Caregivers

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

January 3, 2022

Caring for a loved one with memory loss is difficult under the best of circumstances, but individuals in the LGBTQ community face additional challenges because of their identities and a lifetime of marginalization, stigma, and trauma.

Aging with Pride: IDEA (Innovations in Dementia Empowerment and Action) is the first federally funded research study examining ways to improve the health and quality of life for adults with memory loss and their care partners in the LGBTQ community.

They participate as a pair and at least one of them must be LGBTQ. The IDEA program provides nine individualized virtual coaching sessions including problem solving and communication strategies, and a gentle exercise program. They compensate up to $125 for completing interviews and are enrolling participants in all 50 states.

Find out more by browsing the flyer or their website:

https://goldseninstitute.org/ageidea/

“I liked learning about myself, that I can do this.  I enjoy doing the exercises especially with my partner, it gives us something nice to do together.”  

Program participant

New HEART House Needs Supplies!

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

December 21, 2021

We are beyond thrilled and honored to announce that with the amazing help of our community, we are reopening HEART house in the next few weeks!

HEART will house five LGBTQ residents struggling with homelessness, housing insecurity, and non-affirming situations, and provide them with programming, job assistance, and loving support.

We are looking for the following items to get everything ready – please reach out to lmurdock@lgbtlancaster.org if you want to help! Thank you!

  • Pots and pans
  • Mixing and measuring bowls, measuring spoons
  • Silverware
  • Kitchen towels (the gayer the better!)
  • Cups
  • Tupperware
  • Aluminum foil
  • Glad bags
  • Cling wrap
  • Ice trays
  • 5 twin beds and frames
  • Extra sheets, blankets, comforters for twin beds
  • Towels
  • Small dressers
  • Bedside tables and lamps
  • Closet hangers
  • Pillows
  • Shower caddies
  • Toothbrushes & toothpaste
  • First aid supplies, including basic OTC meds (Tylenol, hydrogen peroxide, neosporin, tums, etc.)
  • A small couch (and we mean small – it’s a very narrow entryway!)
  • Small TV and TV stand
  • Small bookshelves
  • Curtains
  • Super gay wall art
  • Laundry detergent
  • Soap, shampoo
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Basic kitchen staples
  • Board games
  • Craft supplies
  • Pens
  • Notebooks for groups
  • Any little touches to make it a home!

Steps LGBTQ+ Workers Can Take if They’re Experiencing Discrimination in the Workplace

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

October 29, 2021

Workplace harassment

State and federal legislation prohibits any form of workplace discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual identity or sexual preference. If you identify as LGBTQ+, and have experienced any form of discrimination or harassment against you because of your status as a LGBTQ+ individual at work then you have the right to file a complaint with a state or federal anti discrimination body. Your employer cannot retaliate against you if you decide to take your complaint to a government anti discrimination agency for investigation or file a lawsuit against your employer.

You may have your complaint resolved or receive financial compensation if your complaint of a breach of anti discrimination legislation is upheld.

How LGBTQ+ Workers Face Discrimination in the Workplace

LGBTQ+ employees may face various forms of discrimination or harassment while at work. The acts against them may be from a co-worker, a supervisor, manager or the employer. Harassment because of one’s sexual or gender identity is commonplace and may be in the form of taunts, insults, physical or sexual threats or assault. Intimidation may be verbal, or in the form of written comments made through a social media forum, by text messaging, email, notes or letters.

Direct or indirect acts of discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ workers may include any one or a combination of the following:

Steps When Filing a Claim for Discrimination as a LGBTQ+ Employee

Before taking any action after experiencing discrimination or harassment, ensure you have proof, preferably documentary proof, or an audio recording of comments, insults, phone calls etc. Keep a note of dates, times, what happened, who was involved, whether there were credible witnesses, etc.

If you feel able to do so, file a letter of complaint with your supervisor, HR department or employer depending on your workplace, explaining what you have experienced. Keep a copy of correspondence and any response you obtain.

If your employer does not respond or fails to resolve your complaint, the next step is to file a complaint with either your state anti discrimination agency or department such as a Human Rights Commission, or the federal equivalent, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC). The EEOC will investigate complaints of discrimination within workplaces of 15 or more employees. The state of Pennsylvania with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission will also cooperate with the EEOC on a work-share arrangement.

These agencies have a time limit within which you need to file your complaint, which could be 180 to 365 days from the date of the act of discrimination.

If investigators cannot resolve your complaint, then you will normally be given permission to take further legal action of your own. This means filing a lawsuit against your employer based on a breach of anti discrimination laws, such as the federal Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Compensation Possible if a LGBTQ+ Discrimination Claim is Upheld

You may receive financial compensation if your discrimination claim is upheld. You may also have your job reinstated or discrimination reversed. Penalties against your employer in the form of fines or even more serious charges (i.e. if there was a crime involved) may be imposed by the court.

Back pay could be paid out, as well as compensation for emotional or psychological distress caused by the acts of discrimination against you. In more serious cases where you have been the victim of particularly malicious behavior or acts, you may be awarded punitive damages.

Resources Via

  • https://www.eeoc.gov/statutes/title-vii-civil-rights-act-1964
  • https://employmentlawhelp.org/wrongful-termination/turned-down-sexual-orientation
  • https://employmentlawhelp.org/wrongful-termination/sexual-orientation
  • https://www.phrc.pa.gov/File-a-Compliant/Pages/How-to-File-a-Complaint.aspx

This post was contributed by Employment Law Help

2021 GAYLA November 14th

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

October 26, 2021

2021 GAYLA

The Night We’ve Been Dreaming of is Finally Here!

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition will celebrate Queer identity, found family, and the third anniversary of our launch at our QUEER GAYLA at Tellus360 on Sunday, November 14th!

Attendees are encouraged to come dressed in their galactic best to be seen and adored on our Rainbow Carpet! Michelle Johnsen will be on-site assisting with photography, and an exclusive signature cocktail will be available all night long.

Awards Ceremony ticket holders will join our Galactic MC Chi Chi Mizrahi at 5PM on a journey through the stars, honoring changemakers in the Lancaster community. After 7PM, everyone’s invited to our intergalactic dance party featuring a live mix by DJ Salinger!

Tickets are available for purchase here.

Masks and proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be mandatory for this in-person event.

Queer State of the Union

Karen Foley

October 22, 2021

“I have no room in my heart for hatred and frankly, I do not have time for intolerance.

Dr. Rachel Levine, Secretary of Health

Pride is this Sunday. We are happy to attend, but we do not run Pride anymore. Marginalized communities too often split and divide in the face of adversity. Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition was founded because of this exact issue. We are too often ready to cut people off, divide and blame when things get hard. We need to support and hold space for every intersection of our community. We don’t have to like each other, but we need to move together in the same general direction or we will continue to stay marginalized. We are happy to support, because know how important it is for us to celebrate; Pride gives us a day to be in the majority, and lets us connect to our love for each other and for the queer kid in Ephrata who made it through the year despite the odds. This year is different. 

We all believe that all children should be protected and given opportunities to live courageous, full and authentic lives. Right now, our children’s rights are under attack in a more vengeful way than they ever have been in the past and the heat is focused on our trans and nonbinary children. So many of us are burned out and forget what it feels like to be in celebration. But we are not giving up. We may be tired of fighting, but we are not beaten down. We will keep fighting. We need you to fight with us.

We are now careening towards an Extra Give that once again includes organizations that allow oppressors to run alongside the oppressed. We need you to help us house our homeless because there are no beds available or enough affirming shelters. We need your support for our LGBTQ+ Health Consortium because we are still teaching our doctors about our health and bodies because most local medical facilities don’t even understand how to provide culturally humble and proficient medical care. We need you to help repair the damage the pandemic has done to our community that was already isolated and broken before the pandemic. We need you to help us with copay assistance and housing for our elders because we refuse to let the people who fought for their lives in the AIDS epidemic go back into the closet in retirement. 

The Extra Give is a perfect metaphor for Lancaster County at large. We live this every day. We need your help for direct service for our community, which desperately needs it, and we’ll continue to move the dial towards progress a little bit each day. We commit every day to the idea that we must coalesce as marginalized communities because we can’t afford to divide and settle. But we can’t do it without your help. 

My ask is this: think before you give. Give to equitable organizations like Patients R Waiting, who jumped for joy to partner with us on their vaccination clinics for Pride Month in June. Give to Common Wheel who gave our HEART Residents bikes, to Disability Empowerment Center and CAP, to folks who are humbling and doing the hard work of righting the wrongs of a legacy of hatred and bigotry.

Give to the organizations that truly need your help right now. If you truly believe Black Lives Matter and are attending Pride, give equitably and give generously if you have the privilege. Even if you’re mad at us for yelling at you because we demanded justice, or taking on too much and messing up, give grace to people and be kinder — and show up and do something. If you want to pledge your support, reach out to us at info@lgbtlancaster.org for more info.

But don’t just show up to Pride, show up with your sleeves rolled up and take action against hate every single day. Be for something and do something. Like the Steinman Foundation creating an Equity Prize and the Lancaster County Community Foundation launching the LGBT Giving Circle. Don’t come to us for our opinion on how to deal with a bigoted organization, go to them. Make a stand and say “enough is enough.”

We need your help to so we can be free to love who we love, to express our lived identity, for our teens to not continue dying from suicide at alarming rates because of hate, bullying, and lack of access to gender affirming care. We shouldn’t have to shrug our shoulders when we are forced to move our vaccination clinic because of religious bigotry. We do not deserve to fear that a trans woman will die in a male cell block because she had no choice but to risk her life in protest of police violence.

So when it comes to celebrating Pride and the Extra Give, remember this: Black Lives Matter, silence = death, religious freedom is not an excuse for hate, love is love is love. Happy Pride y’all! 🏳️‍🌈

PRAY AWAY Screening Nov. 3

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

October 12, 2021

Pray Away Poster

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition is hosting a screening of Ryan Murphy and Jason Blum’s new documentary Pray Away, 6PM November 3rd at Zoetropolis!

Pray Away focuses on the narratives surrounding anti-LGBTQ+ conversion “therapy.” The film profiles former leaders of the “pray the gay away” movement who must contend with the aftermath of their actions, and a survivor who finds healing and acceptance after over a decade of trauma.

Conversion “therapy” practices attempt to change the sexual orientation or gender identities of LGBTQ+ individuals. As of the time of this writing, there are no state laws prohibiting this harmful practice in Pennsylvania.

While there is a global movement underway to ban this appalling practice, laws alone won’t be enough to stop the harm. The vast majority of conversion efforts take place within organizations and ministries protected by the First Amendment, which means ending conversion therapy for good will require continued education and strategies to encourage cultural progress.

Register your interest here! In lieu of tickets, we will be accepting donations at the door to get in. Attendants must be fully vaccinated and masked

Want to support the Coalition, its programs, and its mission to create an equitable Lancaster County community? Donate today!

October 2021 Tabling Events!

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

October 11, 2021

Coalition staff stand at a Coalition-branded table

Autumn is Queer season and we’re out and about! Drop by our table at these events to get FREE STI test kits and information about the Coalition’s new activities!

  • October 17 @ Planned Parenthood
    Swing by to get a free STI test kit — it’s always better to know for sure! — and bring a hygiene product donation for our HEART Program
  • October 24 @ Lancaster Pride
    Celebrate Queer identity and community with us at Lancaster Pride! Our table will be right in front so be sure to stop by!

On Gender Policing in Sports

Ellie Cochran

September 7, 2021

Gender policing in sports has a blatantly racist history, often being disproportionately performed on Black woman athletes regardless of whether their gender identity conforms with their birth assignment. Even just this year, former Polish sprinter Marcin Urbas requested Olympics organizers run a “thorough test” on Namibian athlete Christine Mboma to “find out if she definitely is a woman” after she ran a semi-final time of 21.97 seconds in the women’s 200-meter race. Mboma, an intersex athlete, was not allowed to run her signature 400-meter race due to “elevated testosterone levels.”

Including transgender athletes in sports categories that match their gender identity is the correct thing to do, full stop. Aside from being the affirming thing to do, the underlying assumptions most cisgender people make about trans bodies to justify their exclusion are incorrect from the start, and reactionary transphobes fail to consider the repercussions that gender policing in sports has on everyone, cis athletes included.

Olympic Athlete Christine Mboma

Since 2018, cis athletes including South Africa’s Caster Semenya, Kenya’s Margaret Wambui, Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba, Namibia’s Beatrice Masilingi and others have all been banned from competing in Olympic events due to regulations surrounding differences in hormonal development. What these short-sighted and racist policies fail to take into account is the fact that training always trumps biology.

Even the occasional mutations that give a genuine biological advantage—for example, Michael Phelps’ wingspan and double-jointed ankles—aren’t gendered and aren’t useful without relevant training and practice. “One high jumper could be taller and have longer legs than another, but the other could have perfect form, and then do better,” explained Andraya Yearwood, a student track athlete and ACLU client, “One sprinter could have parents who spend so much money on personal training for their child, which in turn, would cause that child to run faster.”

The idea that there are distinct “male” and “female” hormones is misleading. Who would accuse a female-assigned cisgender woman who has elevated testosterone levels of not being a woman? In fact, ovaries themselves produce testosterone. Everybody has varying levels of chemistry determining the effects their endocrine system has on their body. Why choose to discriminate on this rather than any other biological variable, such as lung capacity or limb length or foot size?

South African athlete Caster Semenya, who was subjected to "gender testing" after the 2009 athletics world championships
South African athlete Caster Semenya, who was subjected to “gender testing” after the 2009 athletics world championships

But what about trans athletes specifically? The thing is, trans people don’t have any specific advantages categorically, since trans people come in all heights, shapes, and sizes! According to New York Endocrinologist and Executive Director of the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery Dr. Joshua D Safer, “A person’s genetic make-up and internal and external reproductive anatomy are not useful indicators of athletic performance.” Even if a trans athlete is taller than a competitor, height doesn’t really convey an advantage either—Serena Williams is 5’9″ and still has many more grand slam titles than her taller peers.

Ultimately, the gender divide in sports is another example of a false binary that cisgender society has convinced itself is dictated by something other than consensus agreement. A trans woman who takes estrogen will have about the same muscle density and ability to generate muscle as a cis woman. Likewise, a trans man who takes testosterone can generate about the same muscle density as a cis man. Athletes regardless of hormonal chemistry achieve similar strength gains when training under the same program, and runners who are capable of similar performances do not vary widely in body composition. Wouldn’t it ultimately make more sense to bracket athletes by weight class or a similar metric rather than gender? The goal of making a talking point out of gender inclusivity in sports has never been about fairness or a love of competition—it’s a thinly-veiled push to exclude trans people from society and perpetuate a culture that sees trans identities as shameful.