The LGBTQ+ community is under attack; Howard County has PFLAG

Until Trump, the LGBTQ+ community was making real strides in public acceptance and legal support for their rights. Two thirds of Americans endorse same-sex marriages, according to the latest Gallup poll. But the Trump administration has been dismissive of marriage equality and is attempting to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.

I’ve had many gay and transgender friends and family throughout my life. I’ve seen up close the inevitable struggle that folks who are gay or transgender endure to find acceptance in a world full of bigotry.

It’s a time of immense peril for the LGBTQ+ community, but also one of enormous possibility. All of us “coming out” with public support for this minority would go a long ways to bringing our country, our families together. This post is all about the threats to the LGBTQ+ community, and their cause for celebration.

For my part, I was just elected Treasurer of PFLAG Columbia-Howard County, “the extended family of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Harry Schwarz

Obama Gave Us Gay Marriage, Trump The Honeymoon From Hell [EXCERPTS]

by Tim Teeman (Daily Beast), October 4, 2018

But ever since President Donald Trump’s election, the victory and meaning of marriage equality—so hard fought, and a brilliant achievement­­­­­­­­—has become imperiled.

Those opposed to LGBT equality have a new drum to march behind: religious liberty.  The new guard at the White House, with Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions [now Whittaker?] at their ideological forefront, have chosen an insidious scythe to chop away at not just marriage equality but also other equality and anti-discrimination measures and protections.

(by Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images)

‘Religious liberty,’ as evidenced in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, posits that it is fine to not marry gay people, or serve them in shops, or afford them equality of treatment when it comes to adoption and fostering if you, as a religious person, disapprove of them.

The attacks on LGBT people, using “religious liberty,” has coincided with a period of particular trans-focused prejudice. President Trump has announced his determination to ban trans people from serving in the military. States like Texas have tried to pass ‘bathroom bans’ (and in Texas’ case will possibly try once more after failing the first time), which seek to regulate where trans people can and cannot use toilets in public.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/obama-gave-us-gay-marriage-trump-the-honeymoon-from-hell

LGBTQ Victory Fund

Washington, DC – The Rainbow Wave of openly LGBTQ candidates who won elections nationwide included an impressive number of historic firsts and groundbreaking victories at the state legislative level [winners in Maryland are below]. As of November 7th, at 1:00pm ET, 84 openly LGBTQ Victory Fund endorsed candidates won seats across 36 states.

“The rainbow wave touched down in state capitals throughout the country on Election Day – with an astounding number of out LGBTQ candidates shattering long-standing political barriers and becoming historic firsts,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “We elected state legislative candidates in three states that had never elected openly LGBTQ state legislators before, tripled the number of out trans state legislators, and elected LGBTQ women and people of color in key states.”

“While our attention is often focused on Donald Trump and Congress, it is in our state legislatures where the most horrific attacks on LGBTQ equality are occurring. But personal relationships matter in these legislative chambers and we know out LGBTQ officials significantly influence the votes of their colleagues on equality issues. Voters chose to send out candidates to their state legislatures – and these leaders will be game changers.”

https://victoryfund.org/

‘Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration

PFLAG Columbia-Howard County,
The extended family of the LGBTQ+ community

The mission of PFLAG Columbia-Howard County is to support parents and caregivers of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer children. We welcome all people – gay, straight, bisexual, transgender and queer – as well as their families and friends. Together, we support each other, educate the broader community and advocate for equality.

PFLAG families, friends and allies work together with those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer+ to provide opportunities for dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity. PFLAG acts to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity.

PFLAG Columbia-Howard County at the Riverdale Independence Day Parade, 2012 (from PFLAG facebook page)

PFLAG is a national nonprofit organization with thousands of members and supporters and more than 400 chapters across the United States. This vast grassroots network is cultivated, resourced and serviced by the PFLAG National Office, located in Washington, D.C., the national Board of Directors and 13 Regional Directors.

https://www.pflaghoco.org/

Howard’s LGBTQ groups planning first Pride parade, community outreach [EXCERPT]

by Kate Magill (Howard County Times ) June 20, 2018

Advocates, led by the county’s chapter of the LGBT group PFLAG, short for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, hope to see [their] work culminate on the Columbia lakefront next June in the county’s first pride festival.

PFLAG Columbia-Howard County at Baltimore Pride Day (photo by Steve Charing, Steve Charing OUTspoken)

Set to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City, often viewed as a catalyst in the movement for LGBT rights, the festival is scheduled for June 28 [2019] with the theme “Remember, Resist and Rejoice.”

“Howard County [is] such a population center for the state but we don’t have an event to highlight the diversity we supposedly treasure here,” said Jumel Howard, vice president of Howard County’s PFLAG chapter who is leading plans for the festival. “This is a great way to not just show how much we care for the LGBT community [but] to educate the community on some of the issues that affect the LGBT community.”

Queens and Cocktails, PFLAG Columbia-Howard County annual fundraising event. The Queens, with PFLAG Steering Committee members June Howard and Sue Garner (from the PFLAG website)

Howard County’s pride fest joins a growing number of festivals in the area. Washington, D.C., Baltimore City, Montgomery County and Frederick County all have or will hold pride events during the year.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/howard/ph-ho-cf-lgbt-hoco-pride-0531-story.html

And this Essay by a Local Blogger . . . .

Events: Transgender Day of Remembrance Service at UUCC [EXCERPT]
by Colleen Morgenthau (RoCo in HoCo), November 22, 2018

Bruce was gay, of course, but there’s overlap in the experiences of gayness and trans-ness. I absolutely consider him to be someone who was murdered for being who he was. I watched him plunge into a depression so deep that he took his own life, and the reason he did so is because he thought his loved ones would reject him if they knew he was gay. He murdered himself, pretty much to prevent the pain of having his soul murdered by a cruel society.

In the absolute greatest irony of his whole situation, I’m sure that eventually his parents would have embraced him totally for who he was. They, like my parents and Robert’s parents, were members of the Conservative Jewish tradition, but their politics were very liberal. They had gay friends, and were vocal about being pro-gay rights. But Bruce knew, in his eminently wise way, that when it comes to their own child even the most open-minded thinkers might struggle with the idea that their son was different. He couldn’t risk it, I suppose.

https://rocoinhoco.com/events-transgender-day-of-remembrance-service-at-uucc/

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The partners operating Haven on the Lake are fighting in court

The Columbia Association (CA) and Still Point Spas partnered to establish Haven on the Lake, a wellness spa in downtown Columbia, in 2014. Now they are battling each other in court and it doesn’t seem a fair fight. Still Point is accusing CA of “pursuing unrelenting legal actions; CA’s strategy seems to be to ‘bully’ the Still Point into leaving, dragging out the legal process so the costs become too great for a small women-owned business to continue.”

The founders of Still Point, Tori Paide and Marla Peoples, are acupuncturists I know from when I worked at Tai Sophia Institute (now MUIH). They are heart-centered people with the utmost integrity. They are also award-winning entrepreneurs and CA wisely partnered with them for their expertise in creating a healing environment and profitable business model.

Tori Paide, left, and Marla Peoples, founders of The Still Point spa at Haven on the Lake in Columbia, one of two locations

Tori and Marla shared their legal struggle with me, and while it’s their side of the story only, many of the elements are indisputable and the overall documentation seems to me compelling. I am sharing their story so that perhaps the court of public opinion might provide some support in their battle against Goliath. Continue reading The partners operating Haven on the Lake are fighting in court

Substance abuse is prevalent in Howard County. What are we doing about it?

Actually, Howard County is not unusual in the extent of our substance use and abuse. And like everywhere else, addiction follows for too many of us. Whether addiction is to a licit or illicit drug, the results to one’s well-being are much the same.  Given that addicts are from all walks of life, all income groups, all races and creeds, it’s difficult to argue that imprisonment is the best solution. And most folks need help to recover from an addiction. Here’s a primer on addiction and what help is available in the HoCo.

Prevalence of Substance Use in the United States

According to SAMHSA’s [Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration] National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) – 2014 (PDF | 3.4 MB), about two-thirds (66.6%) of people aged 12 or older reported in 2014 that they drank alcohol in the past 12 months, with 6.4% meeting criteria for an alcohol use disorder. Also among Americans aged 12 or older, the use of illicit drugs has increased over the last decade from 8.3% of the population using illicit drugs in the past month in 2002 to 10.2% (27 million people) in 2014. Of those, 7.1 million people met criteria for an illicit drug use disorder in the past year.

The misuse of prescription drugs is second only to marijuana as the nation’s most common drug problem after alcohol and tobacco, leading to troubling increases in opioid overdoses in the past decade. An estimated 25.2% (66.9 million) of Americans aged 12 or older were current users of a tobacco product. While tobacco use has declined since 2002 for the general population, this has not been the case for people with serious mental illness where tobacco use remains a major cause of morbidity and early death.

[The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.]

https://www.samhsa.gov/atod

Location hunt underway for county’s first detox center

by Kate Magill (Howard County Times), July 18, 2017 [EXCERPTS]

As Maryland continues its battle against opioid abuse, Howard County is taking steps toward opening its first residential detoxification center, something officials say is desperately needed and overdue. Continue reading Substance abuse is prevalent in Howard County. What are we doing about it?

How government and nonprofit services came to be in HoCo

Forty-six years ago, as rural Howard County was being inundated by Columbia, a three-day charrette was held to consider what human service needs should be addressed by government and nonprofit organizations. Organized by the Association of Community Services and Howard Community College, the charrette was attended by some 335 people, including citizens, providers, community leaders, new Countians and old Countians. 

They overcame distrust, suspicions and competing interests to reach consensus on a report that is excerpted here. Many ideas were visionary, others just practical, some misguided. The goals they outlined are a measure of how far we’ve come in nearly half a century, and point to what more we have to do to create the city and county that James Rouse envisioned  – a place that provides for the growth of people.

It all started with James Rouse

In 1969, James Rouse created the Columbia Foundation [now the Community Foundation of Howard County] the first community foundation in the state of Maryland.  He and members of the founding board had the prescience to realize that the new town of Columbia would continue to grow and attract new residents and would have pressing needs for decades to come.

[James Rouse stated], “We have always envisaged bringing into being the coordinating leadership, on a continuing basis, to overlook the quality of life of the city; assert entrepreneurial initiative to bring into being new institutions as required; encourage existing institutions to spread their services to areas not covered or avoid unnecessary duplications”.

[In] 1971, the Foundation awarded its first grant to the Association of Community Services of Howard County to “explore human services needs and possible approaches.”

http://cfhoco.org/about-cfhoco/history/ Continue reading How government and nonprofit services came to be in HoCo

There is Human Trafficking in Howard County

A man was charged with forcing four women into prostitution in Howard County this week. Kudos to the Howard County Police Department for their targeted efforts to arrest human trafficking. This is my post from a year ago, updated with the latest report.

Howard police arrest Baltimore man at Laurel motel in latest human trafficking case

by Andrew Michaels (Howard County Times), August 2, 2017 [ABRIDGED]

A Baltimore man was charged Wednesday with the human trafficking of four women in Howard and Prince George’s counties following a nearly two-week investigation by Howard County police.

Kamal Germaine Dorchy, 43, faces multiple counts of human trafficking, the police announced. He is being held without bond at the Howard County jail.

This investigation is part of Howard County’s ongoing efforts to stop prostitution and human trafficking. There have been almost as many human trafficking cases this year as there were in all of 2016. Continue reading There is Human Trafficking in Howard County

Human Services delivery in Howard County now enhanced with new Nonprofit Center

Howard County is creating a model of collaboration for the delivery of human services.  The New Howard County Nonprofit Center has opened at Patuxent Woods Drive in Columbia. My post about the plans for the Center is here.  The offices will soon be part of a larger Community Resources Campus when several Howard County government offices move to adjacent buildings. 

The Campus will be a one-stop shop for folks in need of assistance. It is centrally located at Broken Land and Snowden River Parkways, and is on several RTA bus routes. 

Proximity can serve to enlarge the world view among participants and foster innovation, for the benefit of the organizations and the clients. It requires the commitment of the agencies to make it happen, and our encouragement. 

Nonprofit center model comes to Columbia

by Fatimah Waseem (Columbia Flier), April 28, 2017

A vision floated more than two decades ago to bring local nonprofit organizations and human service agencies under one roof is materializing in a small corporate park in Columbia.

A dozen local agencies and organizations have moved into the nonprofit center at 9770 Patuxent Woods Drive, which will serve as their headquarters and as a Continue reading Human Services delivery in Howard County now enhanced with new Nonprofit Center

Current Status of Charter Schools in Maryland

Public Charter Schools have the potential to improve our education of elementary and secondary school students. I’ve learned this from my work the last eight years facilitating more effective financial management of these schools. It is disappointing, therefore, that Maryland/Howard County has made so little commitment to Public Charter Schools.  It is equally troubling that there is not better understanding of  what charter schools are. 

I have found that the agencies operating Charter Schools, like the nonprofit world in general, range from ineffective but well-intentioned, to cutting edge and well-managed. The former schools need to be closed by the authorizer. The latter need to be replicated for the good of all our kids. But there are real obstacles to charter schools achieving their potential in Maryland. Here’s a primer on what Charter Schools are all about.

Continue reading Current Status of Charter Schools in Maryland