Nov 12 PA Commission on LGBTQ Affairs meeting

The Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs had its quarterly meeting on November 12, 2021, at the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown. Executive Director Rafael Alvarez Febo reported that the commission has been addressing issues raised by HB 1893, which would change reporting and the right to know for health info. This legislation has potential privacy concerns for people living with HIV/AIDS and other conditions.

Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act has contracted with Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center and other LGBTQ centers to boost LGBTQ enrollment. There are LGBTQ sign-up events planned across Pennsylvania. Some plans include heavily-subsidized premiums that are reimbursed upfront, which eliminates out-of-pocket expenditures. There are some challenges still to be addressed, including gender boxes on the forms, as an example. This example will require action from the Federal government to record gender more accurately. Good news - Most plans cover Trans-affirming procedures. Some enrollment coordinators are trans or nonbinary. Unfortunately, fertility treatment is not covered in any plan.

The commission also discussed the importance of gay, lesbian, and bisexual members of the community to support trans and nonbinary people and priorities.

In a breakout session with allies of Black and Brown LGBTQ community members, ways to be supportive when hiring more than one tier for a position to consider all applicants for both levels, as some may self-select only for a lesser tier. It was also stressed that sometimes putting good policies into practice may come before fully understanding/appreciating their impact from an emotional level.

The Policy and Legislation committee reports that there is not much going on during the end of the year. There has fortunately not been any movement on legislation that would ban trans girls from participating in sports in school. Homosexuality is still on the books for some legislation, and there is legislation to have this removed. This should have been removed after the Supreme Court’s Lawrence v Texas decision in 2003.

Legislation is being explored for an easier and more streamlined name change process.

The Youth and Education committee’s top three priorities are enacting a conversion therapy ban by working with The Trevor Project, working with the PA Department of Health to simplify name changes to better support trans community members, and focusing on youth and child welfare systems.

The Health committee noticed that the 2022 Pennsylvania LGBTQIA+ Health Needs Assessment launches in January, and many LGBTQ organizations across the state will be partnering to maximize participation.

The Housing Committee will work more closely with the PA Human Relations Commission. It is expected the PA HRC regulations should be done by Thanksgiving, and there will be a public comment period, possibly in December/January.

The next quarterly meeting will be on February 12, 2022, in Harrisburg.

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