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May 22, 2017

Pennsylvania seeks workaround to protect LGBTQ individuals

With no statewide protections for LGBTQ individuals in education, employment and housing, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission is proposing new guidelines that would include them in current law.

Under the guidelines, LGBTQ people would fall under the "sex" category in current laws that prohibit discrimination.

The PHRC notes that federal courts and administrative agencies have already established that denying the rights of LGBTQ individuals based on their gender identity or sexual orientation can fall under sex-based discrimination.

"The gist of these claims is that LGBTQ individuals do not comply with sexual stereotypes and that adverse action(s) against an LGBTQ individual due to that person’s failure to comply with sexual stereotypes amounts to discrimination based on sex," the proposed guidelines read.

The Pennsylvania ACLU says that although municipalities like Philadelphia have protections in place for LGBTQ individuals, no federal or state law prevents an employer from firing someone because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

In April, Gov. Tom Wolf signed two executive orders that prevented state agencies and contractors from discriminating against LGBTQ people.

The PHRC is seeking public comment on the new guidelines. Comments should be submitted to Christina Reese at chreese@pa.gov by May 26.