LOCAL NEWS: Lower Merion School Board Unanimously Passes Trans-Affirmative Policy

Photo: iStock

Photo: iStock

Lower Merion schools now have a transgender-inclusive student policy.

On Monday, the Lower Merion school board unanimously passed a transgender-inclusive policy that respects students’ names, pronouns, and personal identification in records and academic documents. The new policy also aims to ensure trans students are included in sex-segregated events and public spaces. “This policy is the icing on the cake,” Bruno Reiver, a trans student at Lower Merion, told the press. “As a graduating senior, I cannot express how grateful I am to have attended such a progressive, open-minded institution.” The Pennsylvania Youth Congress and local student groups helped to get the policy passed. Lower Merion is now one of five districts in Pennsylvania — Great Valley, Springfield, Upper Dublin, and Cheltenham are the others — to officially enforce a trans-affirmative policy. The Pittsburgh Public School Board plans to vote on a transgender student policy in June, while the School District of Philadelphia is currently reviewing a policy expected to reach the School Reform Commission this summer. Read more »

NATIONAL NEWS: See Who Won Big at the 2016 GLADD Media Awards

27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards

The 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards

Mariah Carey, Robert De Niro, and Jim Obergefell were among the top award winners at the 27th Annual GLADD Media Awards.

On Saturday, May 14th, the GLAAD Media Awards recognized some big names across all types of media for their “fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives.” The event, held in New York City, featured a surprise appearance from Jennifer Lawrence and a moving acceptance speech from Caitlyn Jenner. Read more »

LGBTQ&A: Deja Lynn Alvarez

Deja Lynn Alvarez

Deja Lynn Alvarez

Deja Lynn Alvarez is a trans woman who has provided LGBTQ youth wellness and service training throughout Philadelphia for years. She previously worked at GALAEI pursuing trans activism within the larger community, and later became director of the Divine Light LGBTQ Wellness Center. Alvarez was recently hired as the assistant prevention navigator for the city’s Department of Public Health, where she addresses HIV/AIDS prevention for LGBTQ youth of color. Read more »

TOP PICKS: The Best LGBTQ Events This Weekend

The Reunion Project is a free day-long program for long-term survivors of HIV-- and that is self defined and includes both HIV positive and HIV negative people.

The Reunion Project is a free daylong program for long-term survivors of HIV.

FRIDAY EVENTS

2016 IBA Business Leaders Luncheon – “Open for Business”
11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Sofitel Philadelphia, 120 South 17th Street; all ages.

The Independence Business Alliance (IBA) is hosting its sixth annual business luncheon, with remarks from Mayor Jim Kenney and a keynote address by Julie Coker Graham, the recently appointed president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. Tickets can be purchased online and include special registration offers and details. Read more »

LGBTQ&A: Isaiah Solomon Freeman

Photo of Isaiah Solomon Freeman.

Isaiah Solomon Freeman

White|Wash, directed by Philly native Isaiah Solomon Freeman, is an experimental horror film — set in an imaginary world where marginalized images are the standard — about an aspiring actress and single mother who experiments with bleaching when she realizes there are roles for women of a darker complexion.

What inspired you to do this film?
Growing up, I had self-confidence issues. I realized that I hated my features that didn’t represent European features. I hated my nose, my complexion, and my lips. I talked to friends who felt the same way about themselves. When it came to writing my senior thesis film, I wanted to do a horror film, but I also wanted a film that dealt with race. I was reading The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison, when I realized that dealing with colorism would be a perfect topic to get a conversation started as well as incorporate a horror feel. Read more »

LOCAL NEWS: Jim Kenney Responds to Girl Thrown Out of Harrisburg Prom

Photo | Jim Kenney

Photo | Jeff Fusco

A Harrisburg teen gets kicked out of her prom for wearing a suit, and Jim Kenney supports her on social media.

Last Friday, a junior at Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg Aniya Wolf was kicked out of her prom for wearing a suit. The Catholic school in Harrisburg informed the teen — who identifies as a lesbian who doesn’t like to dress in girly clothing — of the dress code before the event. But when she decided to show up in a prom suit, they restricted her entrance in and threatened to call the police. “I think my experience shouldn’t be any different than anyone else’s because of something I was born with,” she told a local television station. Wolf added that although she feels accepted by the other students at her school, the administrators make her feel like a “mistake.” Read more »

NATIONAL NEWS: NYC Mayor Calls for Boycott of Chick-fil-A

Photo by iStock

Photo by iStock

Mayor Bill de Blaso does not endorse Chick-fil-A’s stance against same-sex marriage.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio is urging residents to refrain from dining at Chick-fil-A as it plans to open a fourth location in the city this fall. The fast-food restaurant has been at the center of ongoing controversy since CEO Dan T. Cathy spoke out against same-sex marriage in 2012. “What the ownership of Chick-fil-A has said is wrong,” de Blasio said at a recent press conference. “I’m certainly not going to patronize them and I wouldn’t urge any other New Yorker to patronize them … but they do have a legal right.” The company has not changed its position on the issue, but has instead defended how it treats its customers and employees. A spokesperson for the company responded to the recent backlash by telling the press, “The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.” Read more »

Bearlesque Turns Three: Josh Schonewolf on Why the Body-Positive Event Is Still So Necessary

Josh Schonewolf (center) is the creator of "Bearlesque" which is celebrating their 3-year anniversary tonight.

Josh Schonewolf (center) is the creator of “Bearlesque” which is celebrating its three-year anniversary tonight.

Bearlesque, a monthly burlesque revue that features proud, plus-size LGBTQ performers, celebrates three years of drag shows, vocal battles and gay thrills tonight at Tabu with a special evening dedicated to divas. We caught up with the bear-licious evening’s founder, Josh Schonewolf, who turned 35 today, to talk about what makes bears great, why critics of his event are wrong, and the continued need for body positivity in the LGBTQ community.

Bearlesque is 3 years old today. How has the event evolved in the Gayborhood?
Bearlesque has been a hit show from the beginning, because it’s completely unique and an absolute blast. It’s evolved over the three years in many different ways. Most importantly, people know our show now. And it’s like an old faithful, whereas in the beginning we had to sell people on the idea that they should come to our crazy little show. It’s established and the show has a lot of big name performers, and we’re very proud of it.  Read more »

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