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Mayor Peduto enlists community members for LGBTQIA+ Advisory Council

Kate+Koenig+%7C+Senior+Staff+Photographer
Kate Koenig | Senior Staff Photographer

Kate Koenig | Senior Staff Photographer

Kate Koenig | Senior Staff Photographer

By Lauren Rosenblatt / News Editor

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Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto is enlisting the help of 15 diverse community members to make the city more inclusive for people in the LGBTQ+ community.

Peduto announced the creation of an LGBTQIA+ Advisory Council, a group that will act as a liaison between Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ+ community and city government, on MondayPitt senior and former president of the Rainbow Alliance, Marcus Robinson, will be one of the 15 people — selected out of 75 applicants — to serve on the newly established committee.

Robinson, who is studying anthropology and neuroscience at Pitt, said he wants to focus on including the LGBTQ+ youth community in the broader Pittsburgh community, particularly college and high school students.

“If you think about the experiences of a lot of people, this can be their first experience in the city and being around a bigger LGBT community, so [we should be] finding ways to make the city more friendly and a community that makes people want to stay long term,” Robinson said.

Peduto announced the creation of the council in August to take a “comprehensive approach to meet the needs of the entire LGBTQIA+ community,” according to a release from the Mayor’s Office.

The selection group, which Peduto hired to maintain fairness in the process, considered work experience, contributions to the LGBTQ+ community and questionnaire answers when making their selections.

Only 3 percent of Pittsburgh’s population identifies as LGBTQ+, making Pittsburgh one of the nation’s metropolitan areas with smallest LGBTQ+ population, according to a March 2015 Gallup poll.

Robinson said he would like to see the council working with and supporting different LGBTQ+ groups in the city and at universities, including Rainbow Alliance organizations at Pitt, Carnegie Mellon and Chatham.

The Council will meet monthly, provide the Mayor with quarterly status updates and recommend internal and legislative policy to make the city and the city’s administration more inclusive, according to the release. The Council will begin meeting in January and will create annual progress reports, which will be available on their website.

Members of the council will also serve on a subcommittee, which include Advocacy and Outreach, Faith-Based & Cultural Awareness, Health and Wellness and Homelessness, among others.

Several other organizations, including the Pittsburgh Aids Task Force, Judah Fellowship, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Central Outreach Wellness Center are also involved in the council, according to the council’s website.

The council will also gather input from the city on recommendations through public forums and suggestions to subcommittees.

In the Human Rights Campaign 2016 Municipality Index Score Card, which measures how a city supports its LGBTQ+ community, Pittsburgh scored 93 out of 100 possible points. Pittsburgh received perfect scores regarding relationship with the LGBTQ+ community and non-discrimination laws.
Its lowest scores were in law enforcement, which includes responsible reporting of hate crimes and engaging with the LGBTQ+ community, and municipality as an employer, meaning how often the municipality hires LGBTQ+ employees and how fairly they are treated.
Robinson said in his time living in Pittsburgh, he has already seen the city becoming more inclusive and accepting through city-wide initiatives and support for community organizations.

In June 2014, Pittsburgh’s Gay and Lesbian Community Center collaborated with Peduto on a Public Service Announcement video to promote HIV testing, which is offered for free on Thursdays at the GLCC.

Persad Center, a Western Pennsylvania human rights organization that focuses on the well-being of the LGBTQ+ community and people with HIV/AIDS, has its main office in Pittsburgh.

Yet, Robinson said, there is still plenty of room to add to the “cultural diversity” of the city.
“[The council] can help make Pittsburgh a much more inclusive and diverse city,” Robinson said. “And as we get bigger and more people decide to move here, it can play a big role in attracting more people.”

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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper
Mayor Peduto enlists community members for LGBTQIA+ Advisory Council