Advocates of Big Brothers Big Sisters rebuff discrimination concerns at Pittsburgh Public Schools board meeting

A singular message rang from the voices of two dozen speakers at the monthly public hearing of the Pittsburgh Public Schools board on Monday:

Don’t let the few objections over questions posed about volunteers’ sexual orientation, religion or other personal matters halt the district’s relationship with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh.

Jean Ripepi, 87, listens to plaintiffs speak at a meeting at her home in Monongahela, Pa. on August 9, 2018. (Kat Procyk/PublicSource)

Faith and switch: These congregants feel they were baited into giving money to closing churches.

Jean Ripepi, 87, remembers her first mass at St. Anthony Church. The building had two wings separated by a bell tower and stood atop a hill overlooking downtown Monongahela. She was entering a new faith and a new marriage. Ripepi had been raised in the Polish Catholic Church — a sect not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church — and converted to her husband Angelo’s denomination after they wed.

Rev. Shanea Leonard, the pastor of Judah Fellowship Christian Church, sings along with the congregation during worship. Anita Levels directs the worshipers in song. (Photo by Terry Clark/PublicSource)

“Absolutely and unabashedly welcoming”: How some Pittsburgh faith communities embrace LGBT worshippers

After former public defender Turahn Jenkins announced in early July that he would challenge Stephen A. Zappala Jr. in a bid to become Allegheny County’s next district attorney, Jenkins quickly came under fire for his views on sexuality and gender identity. He is affiliated with the Bible Chapel, a church that teaches that homosexuality is sinful, a view that Jenkins reportedly said he shares. Because of his stance, many community members, including leaders from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender [LGBT] community,* were not satisfied with Jenkins’ stated commitment to inclusive and unbiased law enforcement. They asked Jenkins to end his campaign, but he’s chosen to remain in the race. The election is scheduled for 2019.

Mentoring Tahlia’s ambition: How mentors can turn despondence into purpose.

When Tahlia Smith entered high school in 2014, she was under the impression that high school was the place where teenagers learn how to become real adults. She was excited. She imagined she would learn how to develop a career and fill out her income taxes. Her teachers would be master thought facilitators. And she would undergo serious preparation for her future, both personal and professional.