(Illustration by Jay Manning)

Pandemic-era policing: Fewer crimes, but signs of rising stress

Since the first week of the pandemic-related shutdown, Pittsburgh police have seen the overall demand for their services, including investigations of theft, assault and harassment, decrease substantially.

Yet police responses to a variety of non-criminal events, including civil disputes and mental health emergencies, have increased, likely due to the stressors of staying at home.

woman distributing food

Allegheny County exploring range of quarantine options for people who can’t just stay home

Allegheny County is hunting for a location to house homeless and displaced people who contract the new coronavirus but don’t warrant hospitalization, officials confirmed today. Staff at shelters, meanwhile, have begun asking clients whether they are experiencing symptoms and, in some cases, taking temperatures — but don’t yet know what to do when they find a case.

Jeffrey Bolden stands looking at the camera with his back facing a shelf of books at the Lawrenceville Branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

Mental Warfare: What I recognized in the eyes of Nipsey Hussle’s alleged killer

Ermias “Nipsey Hussle” Asghedom was the man who taught me that when you have a dream or mission, the worst enemy you can have is idle time. That was 2009. Ever since then, I found myself listening to Nipsey Hussle every day. His messages of hope carried me through dark times. He was the voice that inspired for nearly a decade. Not just me, but millions. So when news broke that he was killed in his clothing store in March in Crenshaw, Los Angeles, I was not the only person who cried and mourned for the late great.

‘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.