New Website Launches for Trans College Students

Photo by Think Stock

Navigating college life can be a big change for anyone making the transition away from home for the first time. And for trans students, the experience can be even more challenging. That’s why the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) launched the Transgender On-campus Nondiscrimination Information (TONI) project, one of the first websites for trans college and university students in the country.

“With the start of another academic year, the TONI Project isurgently needed,” says NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling. ”Colleges and universities have always been at the forefront of the progress we’ve made in trans inclusion. But there are still too many trans college students who have trouble getting to, paying for and graduating from college. That’s why NCTE and our allies came together to develop this site and hope it’ll go a long way to make the challenges of college life just a little bit easier to overcome.”

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UPenn’s New Incentive for Same-Sex Couples

Jack Heuer (courtesy of University of Pennsylvania)

Beginning July 1, the University of Pennsylvania will provide a tax offset program for same-sex couples who work for the university. The program offers as much as $125 per month for employees who are covering same-sex domestic partners under their current Penn medical plans, with a maximum of $1,500 per year. This offset will appear in employees’ paychecks as additional taxable income — minus applicable state and federal taxes — starting in late July.

Many faculty and staff at the university already enjoy these pre-tax health-insurance premiums for themselves and their dependents. But up until now, employees covering same-sex domestic partners under Penn’s benefit plans have had to pay federal and state taxes on the value of their partner’s coverage. This is largely because federal and Pennsylvania tax codes do not recognize domestic partners as dependents.

“At Penn, this tax inequality is being addressed,” says Jack Heuer, vice president of the Division of Human Resources.  ”Penn has a long history of supporting our LGBT community. We were the first Ivy League institution and among the first local employers to include same-sex domestic partners in our benefits coverage, and now we’re among the first universities to provide this tax offset.”

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HIV Trials at UPenn

The University of Pennsylvania is conducting clinical trials about HIV prevention in the next few months – and they’re looking for a few eligible participants in the Philly area. If you qualify, you’ll be compensated for your time. Just fill out the survey below to be considered. All information is confidential.

Click here to complete the survey.

Get Ready for UPenn’s Pride Games

Courtesy of UPenn

Being out in the sports world still poses some challenges. But this weekend (March 25) the LGBT community’s athletic talents are being celebrated during the University of Pennsylvania’s fifth annual Pride Games. The games kick off at Hill Field (34th and Walnut) at 11 a.m.

“The games are intended to be a fun way for college students to spread awareness about the challenges that the LGBT community faces in the athletic world,” says Nevin Caple, of FreedomSounds, an organization that focuses on LGBT initiatives in sports.

This year, the games are co-hosted by two groups on Penn’s campus: PATH (Penn Athletes and Allies Tackling Homophobia) and Freedom Sounds’ “br{ache the silence,” a group that seeks to empower LGBT student-athletes, coaches and administrators in intercollegiate athletics. The group also develops anti-bullying programs in schools.

As many as 27 teams and more than 220 students have already registered to compete in the Pride events, says Caple. The teams represent a number of different organizations on Penn’s campus – from athletic teams and fraternities to LGBT community groups.

During the event, participants will be expected to complete a series of different challenges, including a water balloon toss, a “drag” race, and an eating contest. Caple, the founder of br{ache the silence, and Sarah Martinez-Helfman, the executive director of the Philadelphia Eagles Youth Partnership, will also be delivering speeches at the event.

Harvard Rallies for Gay Students

The Secret Court is legendary at Harvard University when in 1920 a tribunal of administrators joined to investigate charges of alleged homosexual activity among its students. After several weeks of painful interviews, nine students were expelled for being gay or perceived as being gay. One even committed suicide after the school discovered that he was having an affair with another man.

It may sound more like a terrible plot of an antiquated suspense novel, but this lavender scare was all too real. It was a witch hunt that ruined the lives of many promising young men at one of the nation’s most esteemed universities. And, according to a few recent students and faculty, it’s a scourge that continues to blemish the university’s reputation – especially if you consider that Harvard counts many gay scholars, writers and leaders among its alumni, including Barney Frank, William S. Burroughs and Wallace Stevens.

Today, more than 2,500 students, alumni and supporters at the university have signed a petition saying they would like to see each the expelled students receive honorary degrees:

• Donald Clark
• Eugene Cummings
• Kenneth Day
• Stanley Gilkey
• Joseph Lumbard
• Ernest Weeks Roberts
• Edward Say
• Keith Smerage
• Nathaniel Wollf

“These students were not only forced to leave the university, they were also ordered to leave Cambridge, Mass.,” says Kaia Stern, a faculty member who created the petition. “Two of the students were allowed back (Gilkey and Lumbard), but the rest were not – one killed himself over the ordeal – Eugene R. Cummings. He was only 23-years-old and three weeks away from graduation. We are also disturbed to hear that Harvard pursued and persecuted these young men for over 30 years.”

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The Hottest Co-Eds

Photo by Think Stock

There really is a poll for everything these days. And the latest tells us where the hottest co-eds are at colleges and universities around the country.

University of Pennsylvania has the distinction of being on the short list. We like to think that Penn’s very own LGBT center and visible queer undergrads – not to mention all those out Wharton students – might have a little something to do with their placing. DateMySchool.com also seems to think so, since the website ranked the Philly school among only eight other institutes of (handsome) higher education that are said to have the most eye candy.

Another PA-based school, Penn State, also got a nod for its sexy students. But we have to be honest, there seems to be a lot more being talked about in State College that who’s hot.

Other schools on the list include University of Minnesota – Duluth, Baruch College, School of Visual Arts, Queens College, Fordham University and Dartmouth.

So, what do you think? Does the list pass muster? Or are they leaving out the obvious choices, like NYU, Harvard and Yale? You know, the schools that enroll famous folks like James “I won’t pass up a gay movie role” Franco. That’s got to count for something, right?

Kitchen Opens Feb. 1

Kitchen is a new restaurant/catering service located in West Philadelphia, that aims to open on February 1st. It’s pick-up and delivery only, meaning there’s no dine-in option.

Utilizing locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, the endeavor aims to provide healthy and affordable “home-cooked” meals for the University City community.

Including tax and delivery, items will be priced at $15 or less. Among the highlights of chef Jordan Miller’s menu:

  • Chicken Pot Pie made with fresh vegetables, roasted butternut squash, chicken and a biscuit crust
  • Vegetable Lasagna, crafted with pasta, ricotta and market vegetables
  • West Philly Bahn Mi, a Vietnamese-style hoagie with a choice of beef or pork meatballs marinated in a sweet chili glaze with pickled daikon radish, cucumbers and carrots, cilantro and sriracha aioli on a baguette.
  • A list of prepared sides including  tater-tots with seasonal dipping sauce and an array of prepared vegetables
  • A selection of bread puddings, Chef Miller’s specialty, including both doughnut and banana flavors.

Kitchen [Official Site]

MidAtlantic Misses

midatlantic

Craig LaBan only wishes he could like MidAtlantic the restaurant as much as he likes MidAtlantic the concept. But too many gaffes leave that as an impossibility.

But rarely have I seen such a fantastic idea stumble critically across the finish line over a needless array of elemental cooking gaffes, from a recurring salt problem to sloppy plating and dishes that taste like concepts still in the works.

What is the point of making such tasty beef hot dogs, coarse-ground and aromatic with fennel and clove, if they’re so awkward to eat? Mine were buried under a mountain of potato chips, pickles, and wads of fermented cabbage so messy, it looked as if it had been plated by a bucket, not a chef.

One Bell – Hit or Miss

MidAtlantic [Philadelphia Inquirer]
MidAtlantic [Official Site]