Mazzoni Center Responds to Community Criticism Over Interim Executive Director

Mazzoni Center Washington Square West Location | Courtesy of Mazzoni Center

Criticism has emerged following last week’s announcement that Stephen Glassman would be Mazzoni Center’s interim executive director after a recent slew of resignations at the nonprofit. Some LGBTQ community members have complained on social media that Glassman, a cis-gender white gay male, does not represent the diversity they were expecting, while others working at Mazzoni said they feel the decision “came out of nowhere.” Read more »

Mazzoni Center Announces Stephen Glassman As Interim Executive Director

Stephen Glassman | Photo courtesy of the Mazzoni Center

Following the resignations of its CEO/executive director Nurit Shein and board president Dr. Jimmy Ruiz in April, the board of the Mazzoni Center announced on Monday that the nonprofit’s interim executive director will be Stephen Glassman, former executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut and former chairperson of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. The organization says that Glassman “will focus on operations, finances, programming, development and other day-to-day issues during this critical transition period, until a permanent leader for Mazzoni is identified.” He will also be reporting directly to the board of directors.
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Philly’s Pride Flag to Get Two New Stripes: Black and Brown

Image of new Pride flag via its designing company, Tierney.

Multiple sources closely connected with Thursday’s First Annual Pride Kick-Off at City Hall have confirmed to G Philly that the city’s Pride flag will add black and brown stripes below the traditional six-color rainbow layout. The new permanent design will be, from top to bottom: black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Read more »

“It Was an Ambush”: Behind the Vote That Ousted Sharron Cooks as LGBT Commission Chair

Sharron Cooks | Photo taken by Kelly Burkhardt

The Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs, a 23-member advisory board announced in October 2016 after several intense months of revelations about racial discrimination in the Gayborhood, convened its first meeting on March 16th at City Hall. This inaugural gathering served as the formal introduction of Amber Hikes, a black queer woman newly appointed as the executive director of the Office of LGBT Affairs, to the diverse body of volunteers who would help her advise Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration on the pressing needs of Philadelphia’s LGBT community.

It was during this meeting, which kicked off with commission members taking the floor for two minutes apiece to present overviews of their lives and work, that Sharron Cooks, a black transgender advocate and new member herself, noticed something potentially troubling. She felt that another member, a white cisgender woman, was “taking up too much space” — essentially framing discussion of diversity and inclusion around her own experience rather than that of people of color. Cooks said nothing, but noted that, unlike other members, the woman eventually spoke for five minutes longer than the allotted time. Read more »

UPDATED: Council Unanimously Passes Bill Prompted by Gayborhood Racism Complaints

CityHall-940x540

After passing out of City Council’s Health and Human Services committee in a unanimous vote last month, an anti-discrimination bill introduced by Councilman Derek Green that would strengthen penalties against Philadelphia businesses found to discriminate against their employees, tenants, or customers was passed, again unanimously, by Council on Thursday.

“I am thankful that Council has once again demonstrated its allegiance to a culture of inclusion and acceptance in the City of Philadelphia, and hope that businesses and residents alike are reminded that discrimination is unacceptable,” Green said in a statement. Since introducing this bill in November 2016, Green has consistently cited incidents of Gayborhood racism as the genesis of his interest in amending the Fair Practices Ordinance.

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OPINION: Brian Sims, Stop Chasing the National Spotlight and Focus on the Gayborhood

State Rep. Brian Sims

State Rep. Brian Sims

If you frequent the Gayborhood, by now you’re aware of the ongoing conversations surrounding racial discrimination in the community. You’re most likely also familiar with the recent turmoil at the community’s leading LGBTQ nonprofit, Mazzoni Center. Regardless of your personal thoughts on these issues, you can’t ignore the impact both have had on the Gayborhood.

But oddly enough, it doesn’t appear as though our only openly gay state legislator finds these issues worthy of urgent concern. State Rep. Brian Sims, whose legislative district encompasses the Gayborhood, has been curiously hands-off when it comes to engaging in these public disputes in his own backyard. Read more »

Bill Prompted by Gayborhood Racism Complaints Passes Out of Committee

Councilman at Large, Derek S. Green, Esq.

Councilman at Large Derek S. Green

On Monday, an anti-discrimination bill introduced by Councilman Derek Green that would strengthen penalties against Philadelphia businesses that discriminate against their employees, tenants, or customers passed unanimously out of Council’s Health and Human Services committee.

In a public statement, Green said that he was prompted to introduce the bill by “public outcry about discrimination in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood and release of a video showing a business owner employing racial slurs.” Read more »

More Than 60 Mazzoni Staffers Walk Out, Call on CEO Nurit Shein to Resign

Mazzoni Center staff members during a walkout. Photo by Ernest Owens

Mazzoni Center staff members during a walkout. Photo by Ernest Owens

A week after Dr. Robert Winn resigned as Mazzoni Center’s medical director following reports that he was the subject of an investigation, more than 60 full-time staffers of the nonprofit are now calling for executive director/CEO Nurit Shein to step down.

“Nurit Shein, resign!” said Anthony Leon, a youth education manager at Mazzoni, at the conclusion of a PCHR-mandated organization-wide training session on racial bias on Thursday morning. Staff members began to confront Shein over what they claimed was her lack of transparency surrounding the allegations against Dr. Winn and other internal issues. Former Mazzoni staff members were also present during the confrontation. Read more »

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