Pennsylvania

LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in the States

Pennsylvania
No Statewide LGBT Non-Discrimination Protections
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LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in Pennsylvania:

There are currently no explicit, comprehensive statewide laws establishing LGBTQ non-discrimination in Pennsylvania. Public employees in Pennsylvania are protected via executive orders from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation (1975) and gender identity (2003).

The Latest on LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in Pennsylvania:

Pennsylvania lawmakers are now considering the Pennsylvania Fairness Act, legislation that would update the 1955 Human Relations Act, which already protects citizens from discrimination based on race, color, religion, ancestry, age, sex, national origin, and disability, adding protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In June 2016 Pennsylvania’s Senate Committee on Housing and Urban Affairs voted with bipartisan support in favor of explicit state-level laws protecting people from employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This is the first time in Pennsylvania’s history that the Senate has voted in favor of LGBT protections.

History of LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in Pennsylvania:

  • October 27, 1955: The Pennsylvania General Assembly passes the Human Relations Act, which prohibits discrimination against state residents based on race, color, religion, ancestry, and national origin. Over the years, the Human Relations Act is amended many times to include protections from discrimination based on age, sex, and disability status.
  • April 23, 1975: Pennsylvania Governor Milton Shapp signs an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in state employment, the first executive order of its kind in the entire world.
  • August 5, 1982: The City of Philadelphia passes a local ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, the first Pennsylvania city to do so.
  • 1983: Harrisburg passes a local ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the first Pennsylvania city to extend non-discrimination protections for transgender people.
  • 1983-2011: Local and national organizations engage in conversations about who LGBT Pennsylvanians are, and support for fully comprehensive non-discrimination grows. Several bills are introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature to extend statewide non-discrimination protections to LGBT people, but the bills stall.
  • July 28, 2003: Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell signs an executive order extending non-discrimination protections to transgender Pennsylvanians in state employment.
  • 2000-2015: Dozens of cities, boroughs and townships throughout Pennsylvania pass local ordinances protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The local ordinances, strongly supported and led by Equality PA, build momentum toward statewide legislation.
  • August 9, 2015: Pennsylvania Competes launches a bipartisan campaign dedicated to passing the Pennsylvania Fairness Act, which would update state laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
  • August 26, 2015: A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers introduce the Pennsylvania Fairness Act in the Pennsylvania Legislature to extend non-discrimination protections to LGBT Pennsylvanians.
  • June 22, 2016: The Pennsylvania Senate Committee on Housing and Urban Affairs votes 7-4 – with bipartisan support – in favor of explicit state-level laws protecting people from employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This is the first time in Pennsylvania’s history that the Senate has voted in favor of LGBT protections.

State/Agency Policies:

Executive orders signed, respectively, by Pennsylvania Governors Milton Shapp and Edward Rendell prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation (1975) and gender identity and expression (2003) in state employment.

Municipalities with Non-Discrimination Protections:

The following municipalities protect people from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity:

  • Abingtonton Township (2012)
  • Allegheny County (2009)
  • Allentown (2002)
  • Bethlehem (2011)
  • Bristol Borough (2013)
  • Camp Hill (2016)
  • Cheltenham Borough (2012)
  • Conshohocken Borough (2011)
  • Downingtown Borough (2013)
  • Doylestown Borough (2010)
  • Easton (2006)
  • East Norriton Township (2012)
  • City of Erie (2002)
  • Erie County (2002)
  • Harrisburg (1983)
  • Haverford Township (2011)
  • Jenkintown Borough (2011)
  • Kennett Square (2017)
  • Lancaster (2002)
  • Lansdowne Borough (2006)
  • Lower Merion Township (2010
  • New Hope Borough (2002)
  • Borough of Newtown (2011)
  • Philadelphia (1982, amended 2002)
  • Pittsburgh (1990, amended 1997)
  • Pittston (2013)
  • Phoenixville (2017)
  • Reading (2009)
  • Ross Township (2018)
  • Royersford (2017)
  • Scranton (2003)
  • State College Borough (2007)
  • Swarthmore Borough (2006)
  • Upper Merion Township (2012)
  • West Chester (2006)
  • Whitemarsh Township
  • York (1998)
  • Springfield Township (2011)
  • Susquehanna Township (2011)

Businesses Leading the Charge Against Discrimination:

More than 500 businesses support updating Pennsylvania law to fully protect LGBT people in the state with non-discrimination protections. Many of the state’s leading employers – including Alcoa, the Hershey Company, and top universities – signed onto the Pennsylvania Competes coalition in 2015 and 2016 to pass the PA Fairness Act.

Last Updated October 9, 2018

Public Support:

Active Litigation

Joel Doe v. Boyertown Area School District

Case Concerning Restroom Access for Transgender Students

Key Date: May 24, 2018 • 3rd Circuit Ruling in Favor of District
Status: 3rd Circuit Victory Could Face SCOTUS Review
Legal Team: ACLU of Pennsylvania
Type: Discrimination Targeting Transgender Students

This case is about respecting transgender students for who they are and is a part of the growing legislative and legal momentum against restricting restroom access for transgender Americans.

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