Philadelphia Family Pride stands in opposition to Pennsylvania Senate Bills 1277 and 1278, as well as House Bill 972. SB 1278, which passed the PA Senate, is similar to the Florida Don't Say Gay Bill, in that it limits the ability of our children to learn about their families in schools. SB 1277, which also passed yesterday, would require educators to flag any books, media, or curricula that include "sexually explicit content," and if a student inquires about these materials, their parents would be notified by the schools. HB 972, which had already passed the state House and passed the state Senate yesterday, would prohibit transgender student athletes from competing against athletes of their gender.
Our families deserve to see themselves represented in their publicly-funded school systems, and for our kids to know that their families, like all others, are defined based on the love they share. Trans kids deserve to feel welcome in their schools, not to be discriminated against based on inaccurate and misleading science. We encourage our members, and others who support our families, to write to their representatives in the Pennsylvania General Assembly to ask them to vote against these bills, and to encourage Governor Wolf to veto them, if they are delivered to his desk.
Read more about the Pennsylvania Senate Bills here: WHYY article
Philadelphia Family Pride lends its collective voice to the chorus of outrage over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and eliminate the constitutional right to abortion that has been in place for fifty years. We recognize the many emotions, notably the hurt, anger, and loss that many of you are feeling. We stand with you in these emotions, both today and moving forward.
Leading up to this ruling, conservative legislatures across the country have worked to eliminate rights to critical reproductive health care. The Dobbs v. Jackson decision leak only emboldened those who seek to deny persons the opportunity to receive abortion care. With today’s 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court reaffirmed their institutional failures and impinged on what should be an unalienable right. The forthcoming restrictions will simultaneously attack bodily autonomy and perpetuate disparities - disproportionately impacting Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and low income communities. This dismantles work towards realized reproductive justice, an intersectional movement centered on choosing to have or not have families in safe and sustainable environments.
As an organization centered on LGBTQIA+ families, we recognize that many families who can get pregnant may lose bodily autonomy to decide if and when they are ready to start a family, complicated by a healthcare system that still largely operates within a gender binary. LGBTQIA+ families already face significant hurdles when looking to start a family. Accessing welcoming and affirming healthcare, tackling an overly-complex insurance system, and even navigating a daunting adoption or foster care system are all barriers that LGBTQIA+ families face. In the Dobbs decision released today, it appears as if the Supreme Court views adoption as a viable alternative for individuals seeking an abortion - but we know that this system is not welcoming to all families. According to the Movement Advancement Project, only about half of the states in the United States have enshrined adoption equality into law for LGBTQIA+ families. In some states, it is still illegal for LGBTQIA+ families to enter into the adoption process.
This decision further raises serious questions about other precedents set by the court that involve privacy, autonomy, and liberty including rulings that give rights to LGBTQIA+ families, including marriage. Already LGBTQIA+ rights are under attack in states around the country including the “Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida and the similar Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1278. The fundamental right to privacy ensures that our lives and personal journeys to and through parenthood are not regulated or interfered with by others who attempt to restrict the image and definitions of families and parenthood to a heteronormative standard. As we focus today on abortion access, we must stand against these other discriminatory policies that intersect with this court decision.
PFP has operated, and will continue to operate as an organization to support LGBTQIA+ families in the greater Philadelphia area. We are mission driven to support LGBTQIA+ families through advocacy, education, and family-centered events. With this overturn of Roe, PFP will continue to provide a safe haven for parents, prospective parents, and individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community looking to access information about family planning and affirming medical practices through educational events, peer-to-peer supports, and educating policy makers about the impact that Roe's reversal will have on our families and community. While in Pennsylvania the governor asserts any anti-choice legislation will be vetoed, with a conservative legislature, we must continue to fight for our reproductive rights.
Moving forward, we urge LGBTQIA+ parents and prospective LGBTQIA+ parents to hold space for all emotions brought up by this decision, care for each other, and stand in solidarity with local organizations and abortion access providers that will seek to continue services in light of today’s ruling. Our collective efforts are now more important than ever.
You can find a rally near you, give to local abortion funds, or contact your representatives at these links.
By Naomi Washington-Leapheart
A version of these remarks were offered by Naomi at PFP's Juneteenth Family Pride Picnic on June 18, 2022. (Pictured)
Juneteenth is an occasion to think about the fragile nature of freedom. Freedom can be “granted” to you by somebody else, freedom can be “won” in a military battle, but in a world like ours, where so much has us in chains, actually being able to LIVE in freedom can take days and weeks and months and years.
I think often about those who had gathered at what is now the Reedy Chapel AME Church in Galveston, Texas, on the morning of June 19, 1865. They gathered to hear an impromptu announcement from Union Army General Gordon Granger. I try to appreciate the energy that filled that sanctuary, the energy of proud yet tired Black folks who were still longing for a freedom they didn’t even know was already theirs.
And then I think about how many Black and non-Black LGBTQ people today are officially free but don’t yet know it?
How many of us have spent years toiling in humiliation and shame because nobody ever told us we didn’t have to anymore?
How many of us have spent years in isolation, duped by the people closest to us, who know that homophobia and transphobia ain’t right but still keep it up anyway?
How many of us can look back over our lives with sadness that all those years we spent in chains could have been spent living queer as fuck?
Juneteenth is a celebratory challenge. Juneteenth helps us remember that no, we have not run out of time to be free. Yes, there is still a chance to tap somebody on the shoulder and whisper to them, just like those Union soldiers did in 1865, “You are now free.”
Who can you set free today or tomorrow or next week or next month?
How can we ensure that freedom moves faster - in our neighborhoods and communities, and in the State House and White House?
I raise my fist to honor my ancestors who tasted freedom for the first time on June 19, 1865.
I raise my fist to proclaim that my freedom and your freedom must be enforced, protected, and claimed over and over and over again.
I raise my fist to celebrate freedom as lifestyle. Not a moment. Not a congressional bill. But a way of life.
Would you raise your fist with me and say, Freedom is my lifestyle!
May it be so.
Help us welcome Phoebe Cunningham (she/her/hers) to the Philadelphia Family Pride team as a summer intern through the Bridging the Gaps Community Health Internship Program (BTGCHIP). BTGCHIP is an interdisciplinary program for graduate-level trainees in healthcare and social services which aims to deliver health-related support to community partners across Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
This summer, Phoebe will serve as an organizational support for Philadelphia Family Pride four days a week, focusing on the Paths to Parenthood program for prospective parents and aiding with the growing number of in-person events. Additionally, Phoebe will spend one day per week with other BTGCHIP students in curricular sessions focused on improving healthcare delivery for marginalized populations.
Phoebe is a rising second-year student at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. There she is a Medical Student Government liaison for Penn Med Pride and co-founder of the Medical Humanities Council which centers storytelling, medical history, and the value of artistic outlets for healthcare providers. She is also involved as an advocacy chair for Penn’s Refugee Health Clinic and as the Creative Director for the medical school’s literary magazine.
Phoebe received her bachelor’s degree in Art History and Chemistry from Dartmouth College in 2020. Prior to attending medical school, she worked on clinical trials surrounding COVID-19 and HIV at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She also served as an educational co-chair for the Division of Infectious Diseases’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and as a member of the Community Advisory Board (CAB). Her interests include reproductive healthcare, the value of art in medical education, and community engagement. She looks forward to carrying her experience at Philadelphia Family Pride into her medical practice.
Phoebe grew up in Rochester, NY with her parents and three siblings. She currently lives in Graduate Hospital with three friends and medical students. She enjoys ballet, drawing, reading too many books at one time, and going on bike rides with her partner, Eric. Phoebe is extremely grateful to have the opportunity to support Philadelphia Family Pride’s community throughout the summer! She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.