As December comes to a close, the Office of LGBT Affairs is pleased to celebrate the many important achievements of the past year—including earning a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index for the eighth year in a row. In 2019, we continued to build on our mission of policy work, advocacy, capacity building, and education.

The events and initiatives of this past year represent just a fraction of Philadelphia’s long history of LGBTQ+ activism and celebration. Our office will continue to create opportunities to elevate the voices of LGBTQ+ community members and foster an inclusive environment for all LGBTQ+ Philadelphians in 2020 and beyond.

Policy Wins

2019 was a banner year for progressive policy in Philadelphia. 

The Office of LGBT Affairs testified in support of the following pieces of legislation focused on expanding the rights and protections for trans Philadelphians, which were passed in City Council and signed into law by Mayor Kenney:

  • Bill 190558: Requires youth-serving organizations to implement policy that meets or exceeds the School District’s policy to protect trans and non-binary young people from discrimination. It also requires regular training for staff. 
  • Bill 190559: Expands access to gender-neutral restroom accommodations in City-controlled buildings. 
  • Bill 190651: Amends the Fair Practices Ordinance to update and expand the definitions of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to be more inclusive.

Notably, the office also provided testimony for Resolution 180834 and Bill 189820, which introduced gender-neutral language for City Councilmembers, replacing the use of Councilman and Councilwoman.

In collaboration with the Managing Directors Office, the Philadelphia Police Department, and members of the Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs, the office launched Police Directive 4.15—offering clear instruction for law enforcement officials to guide unbiased day-to-day interactions with transgender and non-binary people. The policy applies to all police interactions, whether as suspects, arrestees, victims or witnesses.

Community Engagement and Celebrations

In addition to legislative and policy work, the office worked to foster the next generation of LGBTQ+ leadership in Philadelphia. The inaugural cohort of the LGBTQ+ Leadership Pipeline were all successfully matched with board seats on LGBTQ-serving organizations throughout the city. 

Another  significant achievement was our second-annual LGBTQ+ State of the Union, providing an opportunity for hundreds of community members to directly connect with the leadership of several of the city’s most-prominent LGBTQ+ nonprofit organizations. 

The office also worked to support and celebrate the opening of Project HOME’s Gloria Casarez Residence, Pennsylvania’s first-ever LGBTQ+ youth housing unit. 

2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which are widely recognized as the beginning of the contemporary LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. The Office of LGBT Affairs was proud to recognize this milestone anniversary with a variety of programs and events, including the first-ever Pride in LOVE park—an out and proud community celebration with music, performances, and dancing.

In the area of youth engagement, the office collaborated with Philadelphia Family Pride to offer a series of foster parent recruitment events throughout the year—helping to educate and inform those seeking to provide safe, affirming homes to LGBTQ+ youth in need. The office also distributed hundreds of rainbow graduation tassels to graduating high school, undergraduate, and graduate students for the second year in a row.

The Office of LGBT Affairs hosted several flag raisings, recognizing significant observances across the city’s LGBTQ+ communities, including: 

  • Transgender Day of Visibility
  • 20th anniversary of Philadelphia Black Pride
  • 50th anniversary of the Stonewall and Pride
  • 19th annual Trans Wellness Conference
  • National Coming out Day
  • Transgender Day of Remembrance

The office also lit up the city’s skyline with the colors of the More Color More Pride flag; and, for the first time ever, lit Boathouse Row with the colors of the trans pride flag.