Bob Casey Requests Taxpayer Funds for LGBT Center That Offers 'Wide Array of Services' to Children as Young as Seven

Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey X)
June 12, 2024

Democratic senator Bob Casey (Pa.) requested hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds this month for an LGBT center that offers a "wide array of services" to children as young as seven years old.

Casey seeks $565,000 for the LGBT Center of Greater Reading to "support access to mental health care for underserved populations," according to his June 5 earmark request to a Senate appropriations subcommittee.

The LGBT Center of Greater Reading, which lists Casey as a "proud supporter," has hosted "Drag Queen Story Hour" events for children and provides referral letters for clients seeking "top surgery" and "bottom surgery," procedures that reconstruct breasts and genitals, respectively.

What's more, the director of the center's wellness clinic, which provides mental health services like those identified in Casey's request, performs gender reassignment surgeries on adults and minors at a nearby hospital. The physician, Ashley Brandt, has posted photos on social media from the operating room after performing vaginoplasties and breast-removal procedures on transgender adults and filling "testicular implants" in preparation for surgery. Brandt has said she performs surgeries only on post-pubescent children and said that "we all take surgeries on minors very seriously."

Casey's funding request could pose a political liability for the Pennsylvania Democrat, considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the upcoming election. A majority of Americans oppose many of the services offered by the LGBT Center. According to a 2022 poll, 60 percent of adults think "Drag Queen Story Hour," in which drag queens read story books to kids, is inappropriate. The LGBT Center of Greater Reading has hosted that kind of event since at least 2019, according to its social media pages. It held "Out in the Park" in October 2022, in which children under 10 years old were admitted free to an event that featured a "Drag Queen Story Hour," a "large kids area," and free HIV testing.

The request also marks an emerging pattern for Casey, who will face Republican businessman Dave McCormick in November. Casey requested $1 million in funding for the William Way LGBT Center last year, but he pulled the request after revelations that the center hosted BDSM and "kink" parties.

The three-term incumbent recently touted a $400,000 earmark for the Mazzoni Center, which, like the LGBT Center of Greater Reading, offers referrals for clients seeking sex-change procedures.

While the LGBT Center of Greater Reading offers its "wide array" of services to children, it is unclear if those services include referrals for surgical procedures and controversial hormone treatments such as puberty blockers.

But Brandt, who hosted a "Gender Affirming Surgery 101" seminar at the center in April 2023, acknowledges performing surgeries on minors, though only those who have gone through puberty and have parental consent and consultation with mental health professionals.

"This idea that we're operating on minors, that we're doing irreversible procedures on minors, is not a new idea," said Brandt, who in a July 2023 interview compared sex-change surgeries to cosmetic surgeries or bariatric procedures. "There are surgeries done on minors all across the board … that require these very intense discussions."

Casey's office and the LGBT Center of Greater Reading did not respond to requests for comment.