State and national groups came together in Pittsburgh last week for a public launch party for videos detailing the lack of discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia-based Equality Pennsylvania paired with national LGBT advocacy groups SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) and the Center for American Progress to create four videos detailing the struggles LGBT individuals face with no legal provisions against discrimination.
The groups are holding viewings of these videos across the state as the legislature considers the PA Fairness Act, which would update state laws to add protections for LGBT individuals in work and consumer environments. The PA Fairness Act is currently before state Senate and House committees.
Levana Layendecker, communications director for Equality Pennsylvania, said not many Pennsylvanians are aware of the lack of LGBT discrimination protections.
“We’ve seen poll after poll, year after year that upwards of 80 percent of Pennsylvania voters, including Republicans and Democrats, support protecting all people from discrimination, including gay and transgender people,” she said.
Only 34 of Pennsylvania’s 2,562 municipalities have special laws protecting against discrimination in housing and employment, including Pittsburgh. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have statewide anti-discrimination protections for LGBT individuals, according to Layendecker.
She said the videos show how LGBT individuals “fear” discrimination and the possibility of dismissal from jobs on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“[Discrimination] changes the way that people feel about their comfort and security at work, about their ability to provide for themselves and their families,” Layendecker said. “It basically makes a lot of people have to hide who they are.”
She said that the goal of these videos is to educate Pennsylvanians on the discrimination that the LGBT community faces in the state.
“It seems surprising in this day and age that gay and transgender people can still be discriminated against,” Layendecker said. “Many people believe they are already protected, and that is not true.”
She said that after viewing the videos at the watch parties, attendees will be encouraged to write to state legislators in support of the PA Fairness Act.
The videos are available online now through the Equality Pennsylvania website.