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New Women & Girls Foundation CEO looks to expand the organization's reach

Jessica Kourkounis
Keystone Crossroads

On today’s special episode of The Confluence: The ACLU has filed a complaint against the Central Bucks School District for allegedly discriminating against LGBTQ students; we talk with the new CEO of the Women and Girls Foundation about her goals for the organization and future of female empowerment; and biologists have published a study discovering a rare hybrid bird.

Today’s guests include: Emily Rizzo, suburban reporter for WHYY; Camila Rivera-Tinsley, CEO of the Women and Girls Foundation; and David Toews, assistant professor of biology at Pennsylvania State University.

Complaint alleges Central Bucks School District is creating a hostile environment for LGBTQ students
(0:00 - 7:14)

The ACLU of Pennsylvania has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education alleging that Central Bucks School District has created a hostile environment for its LGBTQ students.

The ACLU claims that Central Bucks has violated Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause after enforcing policies of censoring books, using incorrect pronouns, and punishing staff for speaking out against anti-LGBTQ orders.

“Bullying has been rampant for years now. The ACLU reports in 2019, a former trans student did attempt suicide after severe bullying. And these days, especially trans kids, they're afraid to go to school, afraid to eat lunch in the cafeteria,” says Emily Rizzo, the suburban reporter at WHYY.

Rizzo says if the federal departments decide to take up the complaint, Central Bucks can negotiate with them, but if negotiations do not resolve the issue, there could be further action from federal officials.

The Women and Girls Foundation new CEO wants to expand programming
(7:15 - 15:01)

Camila Rivera-Tinsley was named as the new CEO of the Women and Girls Foundation in September. Rivera-Tinsley joins the organization after serving as the director of education for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservatory.

One goal for Rivera-Tinsley is expanding the reach of the GirlGov program, a program designed to spark high-school aged-women and femme’s passion for social justice, across the state.

“I think that growing the GirlGov program is something that can happen gradually over the next 3 to 5 years…. I'd love to see chapters in the middle of Pennsylvania and in every region that exists here within the state,” she says.

Rivera-Tinsley also says she’s interested in microgrants and how it could become a way to lift under-resourced people up across the region.

A rare hybrid bird found in western Pennsylvania
(15:01 - 22:30)

A pairing 10 million years in the making was discovered in the woods of western Pennsylvania. Researchers from Penn State University documented the first-ever hybrid of a rose-breasted grosbeak and scarlet tanager.

This creature's parents typically have different nesting preferences and typically they would not have met, explains David Toews, an assistant professor of biology at Penn State. The research team confirmed the bird's parentage through DNA analysis and audio of the bird’s song.

“Odd and rare bird hybrids between otherwise distinct species have been identified before… but we're talking on the order of two to maybe four million years that last shared a common ancestor,” Toews says.

More research will be done on the hybrid bird’s genome to determine if other distinct species like this one hybridized.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts. 

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