PYC Issues a Bold Roadmap for LGBTQ Equality, Equity, and Inclusion for the General Assembly
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Youth Congress has released a first-ever statewide LGBTQ legislative agenda that calls for the enactment of over a dozen laws by the General Assembly. The organization will support the introduction and advocacy behind these efforts in the 2021-2022 session of the state legislature.
As Pennsylvania’s only statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization based in Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania Youth Congress is united in calling for inclusive and coordinated approaches to LGBTQ civil rights work. While the most pressing legislation remains comprehensive statewide LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections, there are numerous additional areas of law the General Assembly must take action on without delay.
Pennsylvania is home to over half a million LGBTQ people. While many of LGBTQ individuals are able to live safely and with dignity as their authentic selves, most continue to struggle with daily challenges.
There is not a single law in effect adopted by the General Assembly explicitly protecting LGBTQ Pennsylvanians from violence or discrimination.
As the Pennsylvania Youth Congress completes its first decade of successful advocacy at the local and statewide levels, the organization has spent years urging the publication of a comprehensive guide to LGBTQ legislative priorities in the Keystone State. Noting that no other entities were taking up this mantle, the Pennsylvania Youth Congress has proceeded in drafting and issuing this important agenda.
Masen Lounsbery, a PYC Advocate for Northeastern Pennsylvania who helped draft the agenda, said, “We need to clearly state our case. The larger LGBTQ movement seems preoccupied with glorified press statements and self-made platforms for platitudes. There can be no laurels to rest on. While our cities clamor for perfect points totals on an illusory scorecard, violence, discrimination, and poverty ravage our communities and hurt our most vulnerable.”
Further, Lounsberry adds, “The time is now for action. The time is now for investment in effective work. We are tired of talk. We are tired of committees. We know what needs to be done. We demand leadership from our state government.”
The report explicitly details how this is the advocacy agenda by and for the Pennsylvania Youth Congress. It does not aim to speak for all LGBTQ Pennsylvanians. Indeed, no one organization or entity can. LGBTQ communities are not monolithic, and our local organizations reflect incredibly rich diversity.
There have been over 100 pieces of legislation introduced in the General Assembly since 1976 towards ensuring basic protections for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians. Only five have received committee votes, and just one became law. However, the 2002 law providing for LGBTQ-inclusive hate crimes protections was struck down by the Commonwealth Court in 2008. As of December 2020, only 67 of Pennsylvania’s 2,562 municipalities have adopted local nondiscrimination ordinances. Pennsylvania has more local LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination laws than any other state in the nation. Several dozen school districts have adopted trans-affirming policies, and a handful of local governments have adopted bans on conversion therapy on minors and hate crimes ordinances. Pennsylvania’s local governments continue to lead when state government remains silent. The responsibility for the numerous needed changes in Pennsylvania law rests with the General Assembly.
This report includes 14 legislative proposals that the Pennsylvania Youth Congress supports the General Assembly pursuing. Following, the agenda continues to detail several major pillars of the annual budget that although are not LGBTQ-specific, have a tremendous impact on the lives of LGBTQ people every day. Lastly, the agenda concludes with visibility priorities for the General Assembly to anchor going forward. Upon consulting with additional community leaders and reviewing news media archives, there appears to be no record of a formal report from a Pennsylvania-based advocacy organization this type of report.
As a nonpartisan organization, the Pennsylvania Youth Congress will support the introduction of the legislation included in the agenda, and advocate for their adoption, in the 2021-2022 session of the General Assembly.
- LGBTQ Nondiscrimination Protections
- Safer Schools Policies
- Foster Care and Out of Home Placement Protections
- Inclusive Sexual Health Education
- LGBTQ-Inclusive Public Education Curriculum
- Name Change Process Reform
- Intersex Protections for Minors
- Conversion Therapy Ban for Minors
- Protections for Non-cisgender Individuals in Jails, Prisons, and Detention Centers
- Hate Crimes Protections
- Data Collection Requirements
- HIV Decriminalization
- Ban on Gay + Trans Panic Defense
- Establishing the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs as an Independent Agency
- Fully-funded public education
- Expansive and LGBTQ-inclusive workforce development
- Funding for homeless shelters and transitional housing grants
- Guaranteeing healthcare access
- Capitol Grounds: Statute of Bayard Rustin
The Pennsylvania Youth Congress advances freedom and justice for young LGBTQ Pennsylvanians through advocating for responsible public policy. As a youth-led organization, PYC represents citizens working toward safer schools and thriving communities across the commonwealth.
Pennsylvania LGBTQ Advocacy Agenda 2021-2022 (Pennsylvania Youth Congress)