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Equality PA Supports PA Human Relations Commission Proposed Guidance to Ensure LGBTQ People Receive Fair Hearings On Complaints

New Proposal from PA HRC will treat discrimination against LGBTQ people similarly sex to discrimination

Harrisburg – Equality Pennsylvania submitted a letter to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission this week to show support for their new proposed guidance to treat discrimination against LGBTQ people as sex discrimination. This guidance mirrors the state of current law: that federal courts and agencies increasingly conclude that sex discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

Equality Pennsylvania Executive Director, Ted Martin, praised the commission’s proposed guidance saying, “These proposed policies are critical to helping ensure that LGBTQ Pennsylvanians are able to fully live their lives free of discrimination. We strongly support these drafts and urge the Commission to finalize these policies; doing so is critical to addressing the long history of discrimination against LGBTQ people in the Commonwealth.”

Download the full letter to the PA Human Relations Commission here.

Martin added, “Equality Pennsylvania also made a number of recommendations for changes to strengthen these policies. These changes will help meet the Commission’s goals of promoting equal opportunity for all and protecting Pennsylvanians from unlawful discrimination. And while these policies do not take the place of comprehensive legislation in the state—it is a very important step forward.”

Discrimination against LGBTQ individuals in Pennsylvania remains a pervasive problem. Despite recent advances in legal protections for LGBT individuals—such as marriage equality in all 50 states and DC—the nearly 400,000 LGBTQ people living in Pennsylvania continue to encounter discrimination on the basis of sex stereotyping, including sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Although there is no comprehensive data on discrimination against LGBTQ people in Pennsylvania, numerous reports have documented the extent of the discrimination experienced by LGBTQ Pennsylvanians and their families. These studies show that:

  • LGBTQ employees in Pennsylvania, including elementary school teachers, prison guards, and factory workers, have faced discrimination on the job;
  • 49% of LGBT students have hid their sexual orientation or gender identity to avoid harassment while at a Pennsylvania university; and
  • Same-sex couples in Pennsylvania earn less than heterosexual couples despite the fact that men with same-sex partners are more likely to have a college degree than men with different-sex partners, suggesting unequal treatment by employers.[1]

Similarly, the recent U.S. Transgender Survey, the largest survey ever devoted to the lives and experiences of transgender people, revealed disturbing patterns of mistreatment and disparities faced by transgender people. The survey of more than 27,700 transgender and gender nonconforming respondents found that more than half of all transgender students have experienced some form of mistreatment in school with 17% of these students leaving school as a result; 15% of respondents were unemployed and 30% who had a job in the past year were fired, denied a promotion, or experienced some other form of mistreatment on the job due to their gender identity or expression; and 46% of respondents were verbally harassed and 9% were physically attacked in the last year alone.[2]



With 60,000 members across the commonwealth, Equality Pennsylvania is the leading organization advancing equality and opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and

[1] A. Hasenbush & C. Mallory, Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Pennsylvania (Sept. 2013), available at:

[2] S.E. James et al., 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality, available at:

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