Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Letter to PA Human Relations Commission

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission is considering guidance clarifying that discrimination against LGBTQ people in Pennsylvania would be treated—and investigated—as a form of sex discrimination. This guidance, which follows precedents set in federal courts and by federal agencies, would be a huge step towards helping ensure LGBTQ Pennsylvanians are able to live their lives free of discrimination.

There is a public comment period that ends in a couple of days (you can find information on the linked website). Here is the letter I sent. Please, if you live in Pennsylvania and support equal opportunity protection for LGBTQ people, send your own letter of support.  I don't doubt that they will receive plenty of comments that lean in the other direction!

I appreciate the opportunity to comment to the PA Human Rights Commission on the proposed guidance relating to LGBTQ individuals, which I learned about on this web page:  and which I have studied and reviewed.

As the father of a transgender young adult, who sadly took their life a little over a year ago, I am all too aware of the climate of discrimination that exists against such people in some parts of our state, and I applaud your proposal to follow the precedents set by federal courts and administrative agencies, including the EOC, in treating discrimination against LGBTQ people as illegal sex discrimination.

The proposed guidance correctly states that “the gist of these claims” (under federal law) “is that LGBTQ individuals do not comply with sexual stereotypes and that discrimination against such an individual… amounts to discrimination based on sex.”

I thoroughly support this statement and the subsequent commitment that “it is the positon of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission that it will take and investigate sex stereotyping claims filed by LGBTQ individuals.”   Our LGBTQ youth need the full protection that the law and federal and state agencies can offer them.

Would it not further strengthen the statement, though, to acknowledge explicitly not only that “the basis of these claims” is such-and-such a legal argument but that in fact “federal courts and agencies have found that discrimination against LGBTQ people is discrimination based on sex stereotyping, and is therefore illegal under federal law”?  I would endorse a change in this direction, as recommended by the National Center for Transgender Equality.

I am deeply appreciative of the spirit and intent of the proposed guidelines and, for the sake of so many young and not-so-young people in the LGBTQ community who face discrimination and hate, I am grateful to the Commission for introducing them.  You will surely also hear from others who feel that in some way the proposed guidelines violate their freedom.  Such folk indeed have the right to believe as they wish about LGBTQ people. But there should not be a right to negate the very existence of people such as my child.  You are headed in the right direction. Thank you.

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