Lehigh County, Pennsylvania Extends Workplace Protections to LGBTQ CommunityBy Shane Stahl • February 22, 2018 • 1:44 pm
On February 14, newly installed Lehigh County Executive Phil Armstrong officially changed the county’s non-discrimination policy to protect members of the LGBTQ community.
Armstrong instructed county department heads to treat sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression as protected classes. The new policy applies not only to government employees within Lehigh County, but also to businesses and contractors wishing to do business with the county.
Armstrong said in a statement:
“Today, we stand here shoulder to shoulder with the LGBTQ community, fighting and demanding that they get the respect that they deserve. I am an ally. Lehigh County is an ally. We will make these changes in our policies and we will pursue equal treatment for everyone.”
Throughout Pennsylvania, several governments have taken action to expand their own non-discrimination laws; although public employees are protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, there are no comprehensive statewide protections to protect LGBTQ people in housing, employment, or public accommodations.
“Pennsylvania remains the only state in the northeast that lacks basic protections for LGBTQ citizens,” said Equality Pennsylvania Interim Executive Director John Dawe. “On this Valentine’s Day, we commend Lehigh County Executive Phil Armstrong for affirming what the majority of Pennsylvanians believe – that people should not be denied opportunity because of who they are or who they love.”
Armstrong was joined at the signing by Amy Zanelli, the first openly gay elected official in Lehigh County.
“It’s important today to know that real allies do exist and that we can come together as a community and different branches of government to do the right thing,” Zanelli said.
Freedom For All Americans thanks the Lehigh County government and Mr. Armstrong for taking this important step in protecting LGBTQ people, and hopes this will spur further action at the state level to make comprehensive non-discrimination protections a reality for all LGBTQ Pennsylvanians.
To learn more about the state of non-discrimination protections in Pennsylvania, click here.