State College

Borough Council calls on Pa. Senate to make discrimination against LGBTQ people illegal

Borough Council on Monday approved a resolution calling on the state Senate to make it illegal to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The resolution supports the enactment of Senate Bill 974, which has made it to the Senate floor.

The resolution passed 6-0; Councilwoman Janet Engeman was absent.

Councilman Evan Myers said protecting all citizens is the prime responsibility of government.

It is the council’s duty to urge the Senate to approve this legislation, he said.

“The lack of protections for LGBTQ people across the country leaves a population of people vulnerable to violence and discrimination in areas of life that many people have the privilege of navigating without concern,” the resolution states.

Penn State University Park Undergraduate Association At-Large Rep. Nathaniel Pentz addressed council, saying he and another member of UPUA met with Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, to discuss the bill.

Pentz said the bill has three prongs — housing, employment and public accommodation.

SB 974 would amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act — which prevents discrimination in these three areas based on an individual’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, education status, handicap or disability — to include protection against discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, according to the Senate’s website.

Pentz also said he wants to make sure that no religious exemptions enter into the bill.

At the Sept. 19 meeting, council approved a resolution calling on the state legislature to support HB 218, which would make it illegal in Pennsylvania to commit hate crimes against individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sarah Rafacz: 814-231-4619; @SarahRafacz