New LGBTQ+, hairstyle, and religion regulations are now in effect in Pennsylvania

New LGBTQ+, hairstyle, and religion regulations are now in effect in Pennsylvania

The PHRC enforces state laws that prohibit discrimination

Harrisburg, PA- The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) is pleased to announce new regulations, more clearly explaining the definitions of 'sex,' 'religious creed,' and 'race,' are now effective in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

According to 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. Following the Independent Regulatory Review Commission's approval in 2022, the PHRC's final-form regulations were approved by the PA Office of Attorney General and published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin in June 2023.

"Today represents an important day in the commonwealth," said PHRC Chair M. Joel Bolstein. "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 new regulations also explained that the protected class 'race' includes traits associated with race, including hair texture and protective hairstyles.

Finally, the regulations more clearly defined 'religious creed' 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," said PHRC Executive Director Chad Dion Lassiter, MSW. "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."

The PHRC enforces the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), which covers discrimination in employment, housing, commercial property, education, and public accommodations; and the Pennsylvania Fair Education Opportunities Act, which is specific to postsecondary education and secondary vocational and trade schools. Under the PHRA, Pennsylvania law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, age (40 and over), sex, ancestry, national origin, religion, familial status (only in housing), disability, use, handling, or training of service animals for a disability, and retaliation.  

PHRC urges anyone who has experienced acts of discrimination or hate to file a complaint with the PHRC by calling 717-787-4410.  Information and resources are also available at Victims of discrimination must file a complaint within 180 days of the alleged act.  

PHRC Media Contact Details

Amanda Brothman

Communications Director 771-856-5971
Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission Media