Although protections exist in Pittsburgh and in Allegheny County, there is currently no comprehensive protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression throughout Pennsylvania. Democratic State Representative Dan Frankel aims to provide that protection to LGBT individuals at the state level. Frankel has authored a bipartisan bill with a record number of cosponsors to amend Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act.
According to Frankel, there needs to be a uniform statute to provide protections across the commonwealth.
“It’s the last vestige of legalized discrimination that Pennsylvania still embraces,” says Frankel.
22 states currently have protections for individuals based upon their sexual orientation, including most of the states surrounding Pennsylvania. Frankel says this makes the state stand out against the accomplishments of Pennsylvania’s neighbors.
The plight of LGBT Pennsylvanians is well-illustrated by Tiffany Wilkins, a doctoral student at Duquesne University who, following an incident involving her sexual orientation, was terminated from her place of employment.
Frankel believes that Wilkins’ experience is a type of hostile political culture that ends up encouraging offensive and hateful responses to LGBT individuals.
“State law needs to reflect a more tolerant community,” says Frankel.