Why We Need Increased LGBTQ Protections in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission recently sought input on a proposed guidance that would set forth legal protections for people who are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Women’s Law Project submitted remarks strongly supporting this guidance, which states the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission would “take and investigate sex stereotyping claims filed by LGBTQ individuals.”

Read the letter WLP Senior Staff Attorney Sue Frietsche sent to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission here.

This guidance is necessary because of the lack of statutory protections for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians under the state’s Human Relations Act and the Pennsylvania Fair Educational Opportunities Act. Attempts to amend the Human Relations Act have repeatedly failed to pass into law. (Rep. Dan Frankel recently re-introduced the legislation, now known as House Bill 1410.)

The proposed measure is also especially necessary in light of the series of recent attacks on the rights of LGBTQ Americans by the Trump administration.

Here are just some of the ways Trump administration has already failed to protect the rights of LGBTQ Americans:


  • In January, human rights advocates noticed that the Trump Administration “appear[ed] to be systematically scrubbing the progress made for LGBTQ people from official websites.”
  • In March, Trump signed an Executive Order rescinding the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order, which addressed employment discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation among federal contractors.
  • The Trump Administration rescinded a federal guidance clarifying Title IX protections for transgender students in public schools that let them use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity, among other protections.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development revoked a rule ensuring that transgender people, who experience violence and homelessness more than the non-transgender population, can stay at sex-segregated shelters of their choice.
  • The Trump Administration erased the LGBTQ community from The National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants and the Annual Program Performance Report for Centers for Independent Living, key surveys that are used to help provide care to American seniors including disability, transportation, and caregiver support needs.
  • The U.S. Census was expected to include LGBTQ Americans in 2020 at the urging of federal agencies, because population data would help enforce anti-discrimination laws. Now, those categories have been deleted, a move GLAAD’s CEO called a “systematic effort on behalf of the Trump administration to erase LGBT people.”
  • Most recently, U.S. Secretary of Education admitted she would allow schools that receive federal funding to discriminate against, and even reject admissions of, LGBTQ students.
  • The Trump budget cuts $59 million from the Ryan White HIV/Aids program, which includes the entirety of the AIDS education program
  • The Trump budget cuts $186 million from the CDC’s “HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STIs and TB Prevention” programs.

We must resist these attacks on behalf of LGBTQ Pennsylvanians, while also supporting House Bill 1410.

The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

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About womenslawproject

The Women's Law Project creates a more just and equitable society by advancing the rights and status of all women throughout their lives. To this end, we engage in high-impact litigation, advocacy, and education.
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