Regulations preventing LGBTQ+, hairstyle and religious discrimination now in effect in Pennsylvania

PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — New regulations to prevent LGBTQ+, hairstyle, and religious discrimination are now in effect in Pennsylvania.

“Let me just say it’s a very historic day,” Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission Executive Director Chad Dion Lassiter said.  

The new regulations more clearly define the definitions of ‘sex,’ ‘religious creed,’ and ‘race,’ the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, which enforces state laws that prohibit discrimination, explained.

Under the new regulations the protected class of ‘sex’ includes pregnancy status, childbirth status, breastfeeding status, sex assigned at birth, gender identity or expression, affectional or sexual orientation, and differences in sex development.

“Today represents an important day in the commonwealth,” the commission’s chair M. Joel Bolstein said. “These regulations now more clearly state what was already a fact, all discrimination in Pennsylvania is illegal. The PHRC wants our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and friends and neighbors to know that Pennsylvania is a safe, accepting, and welcoming place for you and everyone. It has been a long journey to get here, and I am proud of the hard work and dedication of the PHRC staff.”

The protected class ‘race’ includes topics associated with race, including hair texture and protective hairstyles.

“Over a lifetime, black persons, specifically black women, and girls, will experience discrimination based on our hair as early as five years old. And so, it prohibits us from having or gaining access to economic opportunities in the workplace at our jobs, where we experience this type of hair discrimination the most. It prevents us from getting the interview, getting the job, or getting the promotion. And so that is shameful,” Democratic State Representative La’Tasha D. Mayes said.

The definition of ‘religious creed’ was updated to include all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief.  

“Too often we hear of cases where people are discriminated against because of who they love, what religion they practice, what they look like, or how they wear their hair,” the commission’s Executive Director Chad Dion Lassiter said. “The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission protects all commonwealth citizens from any form of discrimination and these regulations affirm that commitment. Our team worked hard to put together these regulations and we are pleased they are now effective.”

These regulation’s provide protection and reinforce the CROWN Act.

The CROWN Act passed through the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on July 7th.

“So, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission regulations provide protection right now to those of us experiencing this type of discrimination. But because it’s regulation, it could change at any time. So, a more long-term solution is to codify banning this type of hair discrimination based on race is what the CROWN Act does is actual a federal bill,” Rep. Mayes said.

The commission’s regulations were approved by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission in 2022, and by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General in 2023. They were then published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin in June 2023. 

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission urges anyone who have experienced acts of discrimination or hate to file a complaint with there office by calling 717-787-4410.

You must file a complaint within 180 days of the alleged act.

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