UPDATED INFO: Equality Forum: LGBTQ Youth Event on Saturday, May 3, 2008

April 29, 2008

LGBTQ youth ages 13-23: Join us on Saturday, May 3, 2008 at the Attic Youth Center for a fun and information-filled day! Drop in between 11am-7pm at the Attic at 255 South 16th Street in Philadelphia. Food will be provided!

As part of Equality Forum, the Attic Youth Center is hosting a day of activities, speakers and information for LGBTQ youth. Katie Stewart, Youth Law Project Attorney, will be presenting a workshop about LGBTQ youth legal rights and advocacy. In addition, there will be workshops about student rights, HIV 101, strengthening your GSA, and much more!  The workshops will begin around 1:30pm or 2:00 pm.

Come & learn about your rights! Come & ask Katie (and the other lawyers, social workers and activists) your questions! Or just come & grab some food and meet other LGBTQ youth! But don’t miss the fun.

If you have any questions or want to know more about Saturday’s event, contact Katie Stewart at kstewart@equalitypa.org.


Pittsburgh Blog for Equality Day!

March 31, 2008

The friendly folks out in ‘da ‘Burgh are really fantastic and today held what I believe is the first-ever Pennsylvania-centric Blog for Equality Day!

Bloggers together, in one voice, stepped up to voice their opposition to the Marriage Protection Amendment. Some spoke from personal experience, others spoke of inequality and the Pennsylvania we want to see— but they all together committed to spreading information about this legislation and educating their readers on how to make their own voices heard.

Major kudos to Pittsburgh Lesbian Correpondents for bringing this all together. For a complete list of participating blogs, just click here.

Save the Date- Upcoming Events in Philadelphia!

March 17, 2008

I really enjoy the spring and summer months in this job. People are out, things are happening, there’s a buzz in the air– AND I get to criss-cross the state meeting thousands of fabulous LGBT and allied people at pride events and parties!

These months are also a very busy time of year for everyone, and before your social calendars become completely full, I wanted to draw your attention to just a few upcoming events in Philly over the next two months.

12th Anniversary Event and Fundraiser! Each year we celebrate our successes and raise money to continue the work we’re doing statewide, and this year our anniversary event will be held on Thursday, May 8. Our new and absolutely fantastic Development Coordinator Michael is working hard to make this year’s event the best it’s ever been, so this is one fundraiser you won’t want to miss. We’ll post more details and information on how to RSVP in the coming weeks.

Equality Forum! Every year, thousands of LGBT people from across the country, and the world, descend upon Philadelphia for a week of workshops, forums, parties and events at the annual Equality Forum. This year Equality Advocates is working closely with the great folks at Equality Forum on several events that you don’t want to miss. Katie Stewart, our Youth Law Project Attorney and resident cool-kid will be co-presenting an entire day of Youth Programming on Saturday, May 3. That same day I’ll be presenting a workshop on how to effectively advocate for LGBT issues in your community.

That night, we are co-sponsoring a statewide reception with Liberty PA at Pure Nightclub with special guests U.S. Representatives Murphy and Sestak. This will be a fabulous event and amazing chance to network with engaged activists from across the region and state.

Additionally, we will have a table at the street-fest on Sunday, May 4 and need volunteers to help us man the table.

These are just a few of the very exciting events coming down the line in the coming months, so keep checking back for more information!


Statewide Week of Action!

January 27, 2008

This week we’ve been working with our partnered organizations and activists all-across Pennsylvania to better engage our amazing supporters in advocacy to improve the lives of LGBT people in the state.

We have a ton of very exciting things happening throughout the state this week, all with the goal of moving pro-LGBT legislation forward in the state.

Equality Advocates is taking an active role during the Week of Action and providing several opportunities for activism:

Sunday, January 27– SNAP Advocacy Workshop at York College of Pennsylvania, 6:00-8:00pm (students only)

Monday, January 28– Volunteer Night in our Philadelphia Office, 5:30-7:30 pm

Tuesday, January 29– People of Faith Lobby Day in Harrisburg, 10:00- 3:00 pm

Tuesday, January 29– Liberty City Volunteer Night in our Philadelphia Office, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Additionally, we’re asking our supporters to call, e-mail and visit their State Representatives to advocate for the successful passage of House Bill 1400, legislation that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing, and public accomodations.

For more information on HB 1400, and ways to become involved, click here.

For more information on any of the above events, just e-mail Jake.

Making a REAL Difference

December 14, 2007

Throughout the summer and fall as I criss-crossed Pennsylvania getting folks to sign letters to their legislators in support of the non-discrimination bill, I’d often get a sad response: “Sure, I’ll sign this, but it won’t do a bit of difference.”

I want to share a recent example of how these efforts REALLY are paying off. Two weeks ago we sent over 6,000 letters to almost every state representative from constituents asking them to co-sponsor non-discrimination legislation. People in almost EVERY SINGLE DISTRICT showed their support for equality, and asked their elected officials to stand with them on this important bill.

Several letters were sent to freshman Republican Representative Susan Helm, who represents a district in the Harrisburg area. After receiving these letters, and speaking with people in the community, she’s signed on-board as a co-sponsor.

Our efforts are making an impact. If you live in Rep. Helm’s district, please take a moment to call and thank her for co-sponsoring House Bill 1400! Her district office number is 717-651-0100.

As we gear up for our Statewide Week of Action in January, I hope this one example helps inspire you all to take that next step and speak to your own legislator. As you can see, it truly makes a difference!

Bring on the Youth!!

November 19, 2007

Hi! My name is Amber Hikes and I am a Master’s candidate in Social Work at the University of Pennsylvania. I’m interning at Equality Advocates this year and helping out with the Youth Law Project.

This project is so important because LGBT youth face an arsenal of discrimination in their everyday lives. Regardless of where they reside geographically, they are no strangers to school harassment, employment discrimination and even police brutality. In order to provide services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and families in Pennsylvania, Equality Advocates recently employed a new lawyer, Katie Stewart, and took on a social work intern (me) to focus solely on this population. The Youth Law Project (YLP) strives to provide direct legal services, advocacy, education and outreach to children and youth affected by anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender bias in Pennsylvania.

To bring in more clients, we’ve designed a presentation with scenarios and interactive discussions for participants. This presentation highlights typical discrimination and harassment situations in school, at work, and at home and allows the youth to discuss their experiences with their peers. Within the presentation, Katie and I also take time to respond to youth questions and provide insight on how to effectively address and handle discrimination issues from a legal and social work perspective. Since it is such a new concept, Katie and I are working on creating brochures and flyers about the project. We are also visiting support groups and youth centers throughout the state. Last month, we did a big workshop at the Attic Youth Center here in Philly. This was an awesome presentation because Jake and Aidan joined us. Attic youth came out and so did representatives from Rainbow Room in Bucks County. The participants discussed the details of real-life scenarios called “Ring the Alarm” and “No More Drama”. The event was a great time and there will be many more like it in the future. With these efforts, we hope to encourage LGBT youth to call the agency’s legal hotline for legal advice or representation.

Although the project is in its infancy, the YLP is a strong program geared towards long-term results and success with the LGBT youth population. The project seeks to address a wide variety of individuals. These youth, with diverse backgrounds, experiences and skill sets should all be able to find a place within the Youth Law Project. Whether it be through legal advice, education or even direct representation, the unprecedented services of the Youth Law Project offer valuable aid for many LGBT youth.

Musings of an Intern: Food, Fun and Advocacy

November 6, 2007

This weeks theme is advocacy:

On Tuesday October 20, Jake and I packed ourselves back into the minivan and headed to the burbs of Philadelphia. Our destination? Lansdowne in Delaware County. The Lansdowne Human Relations Commission had asked us to come facilitate an advocacy workshop for residents in the area.

The workshop went smoothly; first discussing the two bills, house bill 1400 and senate bill 761 and what they would actually do. Then we went over the talking points for the bills, most of which explain why the bills are important, such as: keeping Pennsylvania competitive among its surrounding states who already have sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in their state-wide non-discrimination policies. After the talking points the participants were split into two groups and told to come up with ideas for advocacy that either individuals or the group could do.

All in all the night was a great success and through the work of those who volunteered to keep the advocacy ideas rolling the group as a whole will do wonderful work. We had 26 participants and 2 protesters. I want to say a special thanks to Joan Reivich, Chair of the Lansdowne Human Relations Commission for organizing the event, Lansdowne’s Major Jayne Young and Council-members Ann Hill and Steve Wagner who came. As well as, Carlene Neal and Millie Vega from the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission for attending. 

I hope to see further advocacy efforts from the Lansdowne area. Again Thank you to everyone who attended.

‘Til next time,