|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on December 31, 2017 at 7:30 PM|
With the country taking several large steps in the past year toward the right or even far-right side of the spectrum, one might expect my forecast for 2018 to be even gloomier than my forecast for 2017. However, I am not entirely pessimistic. I do believe we have considerable work to do to improve our local communities, and improve our Commonwealth. All civil rights organizations in Pennsylvania, and there are plenty to choose, will need all the support they can get from people who support our causes. Thus, my prognostications for 2018 are:
1. The United States Supreme Court will rule in favor of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, and against the Colorado Human Rights Commission. This decision will be a 5 to 4 victory for the conservatives who believe that businesses should be allowed to decide what clientele will enter their shops. Soon enough, across the country, the definitely intended consequence of this ruling will be signs that read "No Gays Allowed." Imagine that sign at hotels, restaurants, coffeeshops, and other businesses. Worse yet, imagine signs that say NO LGBT people permitted at hospitals, schools or universities, and government agencies. This ruling alone would set back not just marriage equality, but more broadly, equal rights in general.
The way to retaliate against this ruling will be to convince businesses, large and small, to post signs in their store windows welcoming all people regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Companies large and small will need training on inclusivity, and making their work space free from discrimination. One other way to address this ruling is to push the Pennsylvania Legislature to pass the bipartisan Pennsylvania Fairness Act. We need to continue reaching out to our elected representatives and senators in Harrisburg and encourage them to pass this bill.
2. The Erie County Council will approve an ordinance making Erie County the first county in the Commonwealth to ban conversion therapy on minors. While Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Reading, and Doylestown Borough have already wiped out this heinous and cruel hoax of a therapy, Erie County will take the lead and address the problem swiftly. To that end, the Pennsylvania Equality Project will need continued support from our Erie County friends and potentially need to address Erie County Council in person. Shy of the legislature in Harrisburg address and approving the bill to ban conversion therapy, municipalities and counties will have to respond at times that Harrisburg cannot or will not.
3. The National Insitutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control will have their funding for HIV and AIDS research and prevention slashed drastically. Donald Trump will make the case that the crisis is practically over, and that the states need to take up a greater share of the costs that stem from infection. Furthermore, both NIH and the CDC will be restricted in discussing HIV, AIDS, and STIs within their budget requests from Congress. This has not happened, and from the news I have read, does not appear to be forthcoming. However, if words like "transgender" and "diversity" can be disavowed by the Trump administration, then HIV and AIDS can be equally curtailed.
4. The Department of Education will continue to have its budget slashed in hopes of trimming the deficit for the over $1.5 Trillion in tax breaks for corporations and the überwealthy. In the process, public schools will lose most of the funding they receive for guidance counselors, drug prevention programs, and anti-bullying efforts. The Department will direct states to fund these programs entirely on their own. In Pennsylvania's case, the legislature will make up the shortfall by directing local school districts to seek an increase in property taxes. The alternative will be a series of unfunded mandates that will cause school districts to increase borrowing to pay for these programs, if they are to be continued.
5. Governor Tom Wolf will be re-elected as Governor of Pennsylvania in November. The results will be so close, that the Republican opponent, Scott Wagner will demand a recount. The Governor will sign a bill this spring that will increase funding for county health departments to continue the ongoing fight against opioid addiction, and provide funding for police departments to use Narcan.
6. With Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania's Physician General by his side, Governor Tom Wolf will announce that insurance for counseling and medical procedures for transgender youth will be assured through the CHIP program. I predict that Governor Wolf will veto a bill this spring that would attempt to remove such coverage. .
7. With the guidance and assistance of the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, thirty more school districts will develop Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs. School district administration and school boards across Pennsylvania will agree that the time has come to recognize that by allowing a club to form, bullying issues will likelier be addressed, and students will feel safer at school.
8. The Pennsylvania Equality Project will have successful "Ban Conversion Therapy Rallies," in Mercer, Armstrong, and Butler counties. As a result of these rallies, greater awareness of this issue will be heard across western Pennsylvania.
9. Tragedy will strike at Pittsburgh's Pride Parade, when water will fall from the sky. It will not, in fact, be raining men.
Those are my 9 predictions for 2018. I hope at least some of these come true. We are in the fight for equality together, and everyone's voices must be heard. Please take a moment to share these predictions, and stay "woke" in 2018.
Happy New Year,