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Affirmations Reports Budget Shortfall (But All Is Well), Michigan Reps Working to Improve Name, Gender Marker Changes and More

Affirmations Reports Budget Shortfall

At the Jan. 24 virtual annual meeting of Affirmations, Ferndale’s LGBTQ+ community center, attendees learned the non-profit is in the red on its latest profit and loss statement — but fear not. While a $330,000 budget shortfall seems alarming, Affirmations Executive Director Cheryl Czach tells BTL she expects the discrepancy to resolve itself as expected funds from various grants roll in over the next few months. “The organization is still in a really good position financially,” she said. “We have about $820,000 in cash reserves in the bank.” 

In fact, the region’s leading LGBTQ+ organization is set to unveil several new initiatives this year, including a partnership with MiGen, Michigan’s LGBTQ+ elder network, to bring a community center for seniors to Affirmations. The organization is also expanding its focus on health and human services under the direction of its first HHS Director, Kate Spinney. That program offers in-person counseling and teletherapy resources.

Czach invites the community to attend an open house on Feb. 9, a free event where the Affirmations staff will be on hand to discuss programs and services, including its dozens of community support groups. In March, Affirmations will host a carnival event for families with younger children. Visit goaffirmations.org for more information to learn about programs, events and support group schedules.

Michigan Reps Working to Ease Name and Gender Marker Changes

Equality Michigan is urging community members to put pressure on state legislators to pass a package of bills aimed at removing barriers to legal name changes and accurate identification documents in Michigan. The organization warns that the scenario playing out in Florida is part of an escalation of attacks on transgender people. Florida has threatened transgender residents with criminal penalties for having “inaccurate” identification.

House Bills 5300-5303, sponsored by Michigan Reps Laurie Pohutsky, Emily Dievendorf, Felicia Brabec, Helena Scott and Jason Morgan, seek to remove obstacles like a surgery requirement to update a birth certificate. The bills allow for a self-attestation policy for state IDs and driver’s licenses and would codify the non-binary gender marker (X) policy the Secretary of State established in 2021.

The organization invites community members to sign a petition that will be presented to the legislature in support of the bills.

Have You Experienced Housing Discrimination?

3 Housing

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission invites LGBTQ+ community members and others to share information about discrimination experienced when trying to buy, sell, rent or finance a home. The Commission also invites feedback from individuals with disabilities denied housing or a reasonable accommodation that would allow them to access and live in a rental property. “We know that housing impacts every aspect of life, including health, wealth, security and peace of mind,” said Michigan Department of Civil Rights Executive Director John E. Johnson, Jr. in a news release. 

Two hearings have been held; upcoming dates include March 16 in Flint and April 28 in Grand Rapids. The annual Civil Rights Summit on Fair Housing is set for June 12 in Detroit, where experts, advocates and policymakers will draft legislative recommendations to combat housing discrimination. Visit bit.ly/3w4KkUT.

Ack — Biden Wants to Reduce Teen Pregnancy

In news that has triggered Fox News viewers, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has earmarked $700,000 in funds for a pregnancy prevention program that includes trans boys. “Data suggests that AFAB trans-identified youth may be less likely to use condoms,” materials about the program read. The funding is similar to programs like a Seattle Children’s Hospital grant that created an LGBTQ+ sex education tool intended to reduce STIs and sexual risk behaviors. Oh noes?

Rainbow Resilience Fashion Show

Tickets are selling fast for MiGen’s Rainbow Resilience: An Ageless Fashion Affair, set for March 3 at the Motown Mansion. Hosted by the legendary Lady T, the drag and fashion show will give LGBTQ+ older adults the opportunity to prove that style is “truly ageless,” according to press materials. You can also visit the org’s pop-up vaccine clinic.

Miley Thanks Her ‘Main Gays’ at Grammys

While picking up her Record of the Year award at the 2024 Grammys, pansexual songstress Miley Cyrus, who arrived at the event decked out in a golden dress created only from safety pins, made sure to pay tribute to her “main gays — because look how good I look.” Cyrus' song “Flowers” earned her the award, her second of the night — her first ever Grammy wins.

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