New Youth Winter Drop-In Center (copy) (copy)

Staff from The Place and Inside/Out Youth Services at a new drop-in center for homeless teens and young adults.

Parting shots from the back porch

The anything but quiet end of this federal administration did sneak in a couple of discriminatory double punches against LGBTQ-plus people, some of whom are youths already rejected and mistreated.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services finalized a rule allowing social service providers that receive government funds to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity. For example, shelter programs can now deny a transgender person the right to stay in the appropriate sleeping space if shelter staff or volunteers decide that sleeping quarters must be based on biological sex only.

The latest count of 365 youths in homelessness in El Paso County (November), shows 147 are surviving without shelter. With an estimated 30% of local young people in homelessness identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and nonbinary, the new HHS rule could push even more youths onto the cold streets.

The second punch came from now departed Secretary of Education Betsy Devos who published a memorandum telling schools that LGBTQ students are not expressly protected under laws that prohibit sex discrimination at federally funded institutions. The Jan. 8 memo emphasized that “sex” should only be interpreted to mean “biological sex, male and female” when considering discrimination.

These parting shots from the back porch are temporarily overshadowed by the need to deal with a violent insurrection at the front door of our democracy, but unwinding years of federal assault on vulnerable young people must not get lost in the transition.

Shawna Kemppainen

Colorado Springs

No one should go hungry

On Monday, The Gazette ran a great article about hunger and food banks. This story was first published in the Denver Gazette and so it highlights the work of Food Bank of the Rockies. I am writing today to clarify the relationship of Food Bank of the Rockies and Care and Share Food Bank, which is based right here in Colorado Springs.

Both food banks are part of Feeding America’s network of 200 food banks. Each food bank has certain counties in its service area, and there is a food bank for each county in America. Food Bank of the Rockies provides food to most of northern Colorado and Wyoming. Care and Share Food Bank serves the 31 counties of southern Colorado.

Care and Share provided almost 22 million pounds of food last year. Most of that food went to our 282 partners across southern Colorado. Our partners are food pantries, churches, emergency shelters, soup kitchens, senior centers, and other food relief organizations.

Care and Share has been distributing more food to more people since the pandemic began. We have been able to step up because this community has stepped up. Donors recognized the need for contributions as we have been purchasing more food than ever. Volunteers stood by us knowing that we cannot do our work without them.

Every time we face a crisis, the community comes together and supports us. We are deeply grateful.

Thank you for sharing our belief that no one should go hungry.

Lynne Telford

Colorado Springs

Heartwarming wedding photo

Amid unprecedented times in our country with accompanying unprecedented reporting on television and in every newspaper across the nation, it was heartwarming to open The Gazette to see the beautiful wedding photograph of Glenn and Tanesha Neil!

Congratulations to the newlyweds!

Robin Watson

Colorado Springs

On this slippery slope

There has been a lot of talk about whether impeachment should proceed. Many are speaking out and saying no, that what Donald Trump did wasn’t serious enough, that he didn’t mean it to happen, that he will only be president for a few more days, that it will prevent the country coming together.

Would those people have said the same thing if Barack Obama had done that? I doubt it. There is truth that he will be president for only a few more days, but what can he do in those days? No one could have predicted the assault on the capitol. How can anyone say what he will do next?

Another issue is legal precedent. Will a future president use the decisions made today regarding this issue to excuse or justify their behaviors? Will our decisions today be used by another president as permission to do the same?

Can we say honestly, that justice is served if we excuse his behavior?

If we do excuse and ignore his behavior will we be able to look at others and speak truth or will it erode our own sense of right and wrong? Can there be unity without justice? What are we to do with this slippery slope?

Fran Amos

Colorado Springs

Where was the outrage this summer?

People are upset with Jan. 6. I get that, but where was the outrage last summer during the many, many riots, sacking and burnings going on in our cities? Where is the outrage over those police officers who were injured in those confrontations? Where is the outrage when unarmed citizens were attacked on the streets just because they were there?

I want to see those people that were sacking and burning private citizens businesses, many of them black business owners’ businesses, arrested and pay the price for the mayhem that went on all summer last year.

I repeat, where was the outrage then? Where was the outrage from the press, but especially, where was the outrage from the same politicians who are yelling foul now? We needed some justice back in the summer and more than some people paying the price for the carnage caused by those groups last summer. I am still waiting to see some justice carried out for those private business owners, many of whom lost everything including people who lost a loved one in the mayhem of the summer.

Marcena Springer

Colorado Springs

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