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Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs

Varied agenda tackled by commission

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The Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs held its quarterly meeting in Philadelphia on May 3.

Following is a rundown of discussion hled at the meeting.

2020 Census

There was an update on the 2020 Census and how that relates to Pennsylvania and the LGBTQIA+ community. There is a State Census Complete Count Committee. In the fall, they will be pushing house parties and recruitment for hires in 2020. There was also a discussion for created coded responses for nonbinary gender and other info not directly gathered on the census. Also to be discussed were best practices for asking questions and the top priority for right now is to share info about census jobs.

Federal Update

Kyle Hannon, staff member for US Sen. Bob Casey shared federal updates, including legislation for firearms misdemeanors for hate crimes, the Safe Schools Improvement Act, and Inclusive Aging Act.

18 Pride Festivals

There are 18 Pride festivals across Pennsylvania. In addition to discussion about how commissioners can support and be visible at Pride events, there will also be a committee to draft a statement of values and principles for supporting fully inclusive Pride events that reflect the entire spectrum of the community.

Housing

Also discussed was LGBTQ issues in housing. Areas of concern included data collection, education about housing rights, and prevention and competency for shelters. There are also concerns that people who are "couch surfing" are not being accurately included in data for the homeless. Gentrification also can lead to marginalized people being displaced from their neighborhoods.

Murder & Violence

The high rate of violence and murder targeting trans people of color (POC) was also a concern that was addressed. It was agreed that this needs to center around POC, and that data collection/reporting needs to improve. Frequently issues of misgendering, or a fear of retribution directed against witnesses to these crimes hampers investigations. This also ties in with housing issues from the perspective of having a safe space.

Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission made a presentation. The agency wants to receive discrimination complaints to support passage of hate crime bills at the state level. Complaints can be filed by filing online at www.pahrc.pa.gov or calling. The PA HRC is looking for training for their staff as well to reinforce culturally competent responses. PA does not currently cover sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression in either hate crimes legislation or anti-discrimination, but a bill amending PA's anti-discrimination legislation was introduced a few days after the meeting.

Working groups on various topics (education, aging, health, jobs, etc) met to discuss updates since the last commission meeting, and reported back to the commission as a whole.

There was also an update about the Governor's agenda.

Next Meeting

The next meeting of the PA Commission on LGBTA Affairs will be on Friday, August 9 in Erie, the day before the 27th Annual Erie Pride Picnic. Commissioners are invited to stay over to enjoy the Erie picnic. The fall quarterly meeting will be November 15, location to be determined.