Lambda Legal Commends Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission for Guidance Protecting LGBTQ People, Urges Adoption of Formal Rules

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May 30, 2017
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On Friday, Lambda Legal submitted comments to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission regarding proposed guidance concerning protections for LGBTQ people under Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and Pennsylvania Fair Educational Opportunities Act, and urged the Commission to adopt rules and regulations barring sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination.

“The Commission’s Proposed Guidance clarifying how discrimination against LGBTQ people is prohibited under Pennsylvania law is a welcome and long-overdue step to combat the high rates of discrimination, harassment and stigma faced by LGBTQ Pennsylvanians,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Lambda Legal Staff Attorney. “However, the Proposed Guidance can be further improved by spelling out the multiple ways in which sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are forms of sex discrimination.” 

“Pennsylvania has long had a commitment to eliminating discrimination and assuring its people equal access and opportunity to all within its borders. We urge the Commission to adopt rules and regulations, in accordance with our recommendations, that guarantee LGBTQ and gender-nonconforming Pennsylvanians an equal opportunity to enjoy a full and productive life within the Commonwealth.”

The Proposed Guidance is designed to clarify how the prohibition on sex discrimination within Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act and Fair Educational Opportunities Act encompasses discrimination against LGBTQ persons.

In its comments, Lambda Legal:

-         advocated for the Proposed Guidance to incorporate all of the rationales for why discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity are forms of sex discrimination;

-         recommended that the Proposed Guidance be modified to explicitly state that the Commission will take and investigate sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, transgender status, and sex stereotyping claims filed by LGBTQ individuals as sex discrimination claims; and

-         pressed the Commission to promulgate and implement rules and regulations that explicitly define discrimination on the basis of sex, as the term “sex” is used in Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act and Fair Educational Opportunities Act, to include actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, transgender status, and failure to comply with sex stereotypes.

You can read the comments here.