‘I’m just me.’ A non-binary second grader in Allegheny County shares her experiences with identity and acceptance.

R, a second grader at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in the Bethel Park School District, is like her classmates in many ways. She loves cheetahs, jumping in big piles of leaves and watching the Lego Avengers save the world from bad guys. Science is her favorite class, especially learning about weather, as she hopes to become a meteorologist one day. 

R, whose first initial is used to protect her privacy, also identifies as non-binary. “I'm not a girl, not a boy,” R said. “I’m just me.”

GLAAD, a national nonprofit that promotes LGBTQ acceptance in media, defines non-binary as a term used by individuals “who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as falling outside the categories of man and woman.” Non-binary is different from transgender, which GLAAD defines as people “whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth.”

Because most research on population does not include non-binary as a gender category, it is hard to say how many Americans overall identify as non-binary.

young person drawing

Are Allegheny County schools adequately supporting the mental health of their LGBTQ students?

A few dozen students sat at long cafeteria tables, each with a blank paper figure in front of them. They would spend the next hour decorating the figures in a way that represents their identities. 

“The word of the day is ‘identity,’” art teacher Lauren Rowe said, giving directions to the West Mifflin Area High School students. 

The activity was part of a November joint meeting with the school’s gay-straight alliance [GSA] and the  Stand Together Team mental health club. After the meeting, the figures were displayed in the hallways. To protect students’ identities, there were no names attached to them. “We want our school to see how we proudly identify ourselves,” said Rowe, who also serves as the Stand Together Team faculty sponsor.

Skyline Terrace, a mixed-income housing complex, developed by the Housing Authority for the City of Pittsburgh. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

Pittsburgh’s housing authority is spending millions in Section 8 voucher funds to build affordable housing

Since 2011, the Pittsburgh housing authority has spent $58 million from its Section 8 housing voucher program on the construction of mixed-income housing developments. Those developments — such as Garfield Commons, Skyline Terrace in the Hill District and Cornerstone Village in Larimer — include market-rate and affordable units and are part of the authority’s long-term strategy to revitalize neighborhoods and stem the loss of affordable housing. But is construction coming at the expense of the agency’s hobbled Section 8 voucher program? As of Oct. 31, 8,684 families were waiting for housing vouchers.

Brain illustration with cracks.

PA changed its standard for involuntary mental health treatment earlier this year. So why aren’t counties using it?

Involuntary mental health treatment is a highly controversial issue among practitioners, advocates and those who have sought and received treatment. Some argue that involuntary treatment is the only way to guarantee that certain people get the help they need. Others say it infringes on a person’s civil rights and can push them away from seeking help in the future.

Single-use plastic and air pollution: Two leading experts share their knowledge about climate change

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story. Read PublicSource's stories here. Climate change is a crisis that impacts us at both the global and local levels. The decisions of local and state lawmakers determine the type of materials that end up on our shelves and in our environment. The impact of pollution can vary depending on where you are, not just on a regional level but on a neighborhood level — meaning Pittsburghers don’t all experience the same consequences from pollution in the same way.