Community Briefs: August 5, 2022

Illustration by Ash Cheshire.

Temple to launch program focused on improving medical care for trans patients 

Doctors at Temple University’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine are putting together a program to help residents deliver better care to trans and nonbinary patients. The efforts are made possible through a $400,000 grant from the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), the ABIM Foundation, the American College of Physicians and the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation allocated to 24 projects at medical schools and training programs for the purpose of enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion.

Temple’s DEI initiative is called the UNIQUE project, which stands for uniting inter-professional learning to serve the queer community through education. It will be based on a combination of community outreach and standardized patient encounters to foster learning and improve sensitivity and communication, said Dr. Jamie Garfield, professor of thoracic medicine at Temple’s Lewis Katz School and director of the LGBTQ curriculum for Temple’s internal medicine residents. 

“There are extreme disparities to care for this community compared to the heterosexual community,” Garfield said. “The biggest reason why trans and nonbinary people will tell you they’re reluctant to seek medical care is because they feel as if they have to educate their providers. There’s a lot of work to be done.”

Through the UNIQUE project, Garfield and her colleagues will hire and train trans and nonbinary community members to interact with medical residents in a variety of patient scenarios. Scenarios may range from conversations about sexual practices and STD screening to treating a broken arm, for example.  

“This grant is about interprofessional development, so the residents can learn from the medical staff, the medical staff can learn from the residents,” Garfield said. “The standardized patient can provide feedback in real time to both the staff and the residents. Everyone learns together in a simulated training environment.”

Garfield and her team are recruiting trans and nonbinary Philadelphians to be part of the project’s advisory board, which will also include members of the grant leadership. The board members will determine which standardized encounters will be used for the project, and select and train standardized patients, who will also be paid and trained. 

“We are interested in serving this community,” Garfield said. “So we have to have people from the community weighing in on every aspect of this research.”

New Hope Celebrates welcomes new board members

The organization New Hope Celebrates (NHC) recently welcomed its new executive board of directors. NHC is founded on uniting people to collectively celebrate New Hope’s history from a diversity and inclusion standpoint. 

The organization’s new president is Melissa Patterson, associate director in clinical finance at Gilead Sciences; its new vice president of events is Ryan Segura, who works as a real estate agent at Weichert Realtors; its new vice president of communications is Eva Guasconi, who is part of the concierge team and a bartender at ROOF in New Hope, and the first transgender person to serve on NHC’s board; and Marjorie Forbes, naturopathic doctor and chief operating officer for Union Chill Cannabis, will serve as the organization’s new vice president of governance. They all previously served on the organization’s board in other capacities.

“I have worked with this team through Pride 2022 and I have every confidence that the new executive board, under the leadership of Melissa Patterson, will continue to evolve the NHC organization and make a meaningful impact on the LGBTQ+ community,” former president and special advisor to the NHC board Sharon Fronabarger told Bucks County Courier Times.

Central Bucks School Board approves controversial library policy 

The board of Central Bucks School District voted on July 23 to execute a new library policy that gives county residents the power to challenge books in school libraries, the Bucks County Courier Times reported. Six board members voted in favor, while three voted against. Those who condemn the policy argue that it opens the door to banning books that contain LGBTQ content and/or racial issues they deem unfit for children. Those who condone it claim that it will ensure that kids are reading age-appropriate content that is consistent with the school’s standards of education. The policy has received criticism from community members, legal professionals and policy experts. 

School officials said that the policy wasn’t created to target any one community in particular, and that certain books will be exempt, including classics.  

The policy dictates that anyone who lives in Central Bucks municipalities can formally challenge a book in a school library. As a first step, a district official will try to solve the issue through a phone conversation or meeting. Failing that, the challenger of the book can place a formal query to the school district via a form that asks the challenger to denote the sections of the book that they flag as inappropriate. The challenger will be asked whether they want the book removed or for their child to be denied access to it. 

Representatives from the ACLU, Education Law Center, NAACP, PFLAG and community members assembled at a press conference prior to the school board’s vote. They criticized the policy, saying that its verbiage lays the groundwork for parents to challenge books based on personal conviction.   

The policy targets age-appropriate content, especially overt depictions of sex. It generally bans “visual or visually implied depictions of sexual acts or simulations of such acts” for all grade levels. School Board President Dana Hunter and Superintendent Abram Lucabaugh told the Courier Times that district staff will review challenged books, and will avoid unwarranted elimination of titles.

Lehigh Valley Pride set for Aug. 21

Although Pride month has technically come and gone, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate. Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center is hosting Lehigh Valley Pride on Sunday, Aug. 21 at the Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley. 

Attendees can enjoy drag and musical performances; LGBTQ-affirming vendors and representatives from nonprofits and social justice orgs; an art-making contest using recycled materials; a designated dog park; family-friend areas including Drag Queen Story Time, a teen space and a sober space; and food and drink from the Allentown Fairground Farmers Market as well as Samual Adams “Love Conquers Ale” Pride Pub. Pride-goers can also avail themselves of health services, including COVID-19 testing and vaccination, and HIV and other STD testing. 

Headliners include drag performers Ra’Jah O’Hara and Alyssa Hunter, both of whom performed on “RuPaul’s Drag Race”; soul and folk singer-songwriter Chastity Brown, and Ryan Cassata, singer-songwriter and LGBTQ activist. Local performers include singer-songwriter D’Neah Allen, and drag performers Elektra Fearce St. James, Drake Hallows, Cherri Sundae, King Sabastian, Rogue Star Givenchy, and Venus Mystique.

Lehigh Pride weekend kicks off on Saturday, Aug. 20 with a pre-Pride party, presented by Bradbury-Sullivan Center and OUT in the Valley. The event starts at 8 p.m. at Maingate Nightclub in Allentown, where guests can enjoy drag performances by Sakura Bee Love, Carol Ann Carol Ann and Sharron Ann Husbands. DJ David Petrilla will provide the music.  

Folks can keep the vibe going after the Pride day itself at Vogue Lounge, formerly Stonewall Lehigh Valley, on Aug. 21 at 7 p.m. DJ Brad Scott will bring the musical beats and drag performer Alyssa Hunter will make an appearance.  

For more info about Lehigh Valley Pride, visit