Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ affairs meeting on May 21

The Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs held its quarterly spring meeting via Zoom on May 21. Executive Director Rafael Alvarez-Febo reported that the commission has been working on COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, particularly in LGBTQ intersectional communities. There will be a Pride flag-raising ceremony on June 15 at noon in Harrisburg, and there are other significant LGBTQ initiatives expected to be announced at that time.

The Aging workgroup is currently working on adding a page on living with HIV as a chronic disease on the Pennsylvania Department of Aging's website. The workgroup will also be presenting on June 9 to a statewide meeting of area agencies on aging (AAA.) Most counties have a regional area agency on aging, and the workgroup will present resources and share information on best practices for working with the LGBTQ community. Additionally, since most Pennsylvania state-level departments have similar regional agencies, this will also be a good model for other departments.

The Health workgroup has been chiefly focused on COVID-19 for the past year but discussed non-COVID issues at this meeting. Topics included working with the PA Insurance commission on fertility coverage equity, as some current requirements don't apply to couples that don't have complementary gametes. (I.e. same-sex or couples that include someone who is transgender.) Some LGBTQ community centers across the commonwealth have been holding COVID-19 vaccination clinics.

The Legislative and Policy workgroup is working on the non-discrimination bill by engaging with faith communities. They encouraged everyone to keep an eye out for PA Fairness Act co-sponsors. The workgroup is also monitoring possible proposed bills that would be against the interest of the LGBTQ community.

The Youth and Youth Services workgroup is working on being trauma-informed when working with youth and addressing mistrust of vaccines by youth in intersectional identities. There is a need for mental and emotional health by youth, and many programs are at maximum capacity.

The Housing committee reminds everyone that they are looking for members, and they meet every other Tuesday via Zoom at 2 PM.

The commission's next meeting will be a hybrid meeting on August 21 that includes in-person in Pittsburgh.

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