Author: Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

At The Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition, we are committed to building a supportive and enriching community abundant in opportunities for LGBTQQIA+ individuals and those with a stake in creating a more inclusive Lancaster County.

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.

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.

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!

Visit Our Table at Recovery Day Lancaster!

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

August 30, 2021

Visit the Coalition's table at Recovery Day Lancaster Saturday, September 11 from 10 AM to 3 PM

A 2016 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that the number of Queer community members reporting illicit drug use disorders is twice as many as their cis/het peers. According to GLAAD’s 2020 Accelerating Acceptance survey, people who identify as gay or lesbian are more than twice as likely to have a “severe” alcohol or tobacco use disorder than their het peers, people who identify as bisexual are three times as likely to develop a substance use disorder, and transgender students are two and a half times more likely to use drugs than cis students.

These alarming statistics are due in part to the unique difficulties faced by the Queer community due to outdated legal, religious, and ethical practices leading to Queerphobia and discrimination. It’s vital that members of the LGBTQ+ communities have access to empathetic and comprehensive treatment options within a community which supports addiction recovery. That’s why we’ll be hosting a table at Recovery Day Lancaster September 11 at Buchanan Park!

Recovery Day Lancaster is a celebration of healing which helps to normalize addiction recovery as a healthy and contributing factor towards a strong community. Recovery is more sustainable in a welcoming and supportive environment, so join us starting at 9:30 AM for a 5K walk for recovery, unity circle, and performances from Half Past Dead and Octavia Blues Band. There will be vendors, games, crafts, and more all day — so drop by and say hi!

Learn more about the event at lancastercountyrecovery.com

Hempfield Trans Athlete’s Rights Protest Reportback

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

July 14, 2021

support trans students

On Tuesday, July 13, over 300 people from the Lancaster community gathered outside Hempfield High School to support transgender students desiring to participate in high school athletics. The school board was meeting to hear from district residents and presumably decide the issue. Currently, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association relegates the decision regarding transgender athlete participation to local high school principals.  

After hearing from 80 speakers the Board ultimately decided to hire a law firm to assist in establishing a school district policy on the matter. The Independence Law Center, which  “works to preserve religious liberty, promote marriage and the family, and protect human life,” was nominated and approved. This is a conservative Christian group hired with tax dollars without due process of bidding. It seemed evident to those in attendance that this motion to hire this particular religious law firm to establish policy was pre-planned. A conservative religious group should not be making policy for a public high school. The school board, as a publicly elected entity should make decisions based on facts and best practice, not religious based beliefs which endanger the lives and exclude others who don’t share their faith. 

Hempfield parent Jamie Beth Cohen, who has been involved in school and college sports her entire life, wrote to the board to urge them not to ban trans athletes from competing:

The suicide statistics for LGBTQIA+ students are chilling, and make no mistake, bans like the one Hempfield may be considering contribute to the alienation of students that in turn can contribute to suicidal ideation and action. I urge you to follow the facts and the science.

I say this with respect for all athletes at all levels of play: Sports are important AND the lives of our most vulnerable students are more important. Make no mistake, this is a life and death matter. And I can’t sit back and watch as trans athletes are excluded from the life-giving and life-affirming benefits of playing sports with their peers.

There are no pre-determined criteria for the way women’s bodies must be — even cisgender people can have hormone levels outside the range considered typical for their assigned sex, or could be intersex. The reality of these discriminatory bans has no basis in science and serves only to invite gender policing which could subject any woman to invasive tests or questions about personal medical information. They exist only to exclude trans people, and reinforce the idea that trans individuals are to be shunned in society.

Coach and sports policy expert Helen Caroll noted in a 2020 declaration, “For the past nine years, transgender athletes have been able to compete on teams at NCAA member collegiates and universities consistent with their gender identity like all other student-athletes with no disruption to women’s collegiate sports.”

Representatives from Lancaster Stands Up, The ACLU, YWCA, and Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition are continuing to work together to ensure that trans students are heard and supported, and that uninformed, phobic, and discriminatory policies will be challenged.

Please join us virtually on Sunday, July 18th at 8pm, as we process the multitude of emotions, events, and harm done this week as we fight for the humanity of our transgender/non-binary community members. This will be a private space to share thoughts and feelings, as well as resources for our continued work towards collective liberation. Pre-registration is required. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Click here to register.

Last Weekend of Pride Month Events

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

June 23, 2021

Saturday, June 26: Cure Dispensary Pride Day

Access to affirming healthcare is a vital aspect of Queer life. As with many marginalized groups, the demand for healthcare exists but Queer individuals struggle to navigate medical institutions which don’t understand or cater to our unique experience.

That’s why we’re excited to be working with Cure Dispensary for their Pride Day celebrations! From noon to 7 PM, swing by for music, free home STI test kits, discounts, and pride swag! Bring a sanitation product for a $5 discount on your order! All customers must have a medical marijuana card to enter the dispensary.

Accepted sanitation items are:

  • Deodorant
  • Tampons
  • Pads
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toilet Paper
  • Baby Diapers (sizes 4-6)
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Body Wash
  • Paper Towels
  • Baby Wipes
  • Cleaning Supplies

Sunday, June 27: Salsa & MerenGay

Join us on Sunday between 8AM and 5PM at McCaskey High School for Salsa & MerenGay: an LGBTQ+ inclusive salsa lesson in partnership with Patients R Waiting and Union Community Care’s Health Equity NOW initiative! DJ Ecliptic will be performing from 2-5PM, and we’ll be handing out free home STI test kits for National HIV Testing Day.

Afterward, swing by High Fever’s pride-themed party at Marion Court from 2-7PM to catch a drag show, food and drinks, and a free home STI test kit. Admission is $10.