Codifying regulations on sex, race protects Pennsylvanians

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission issued new regulations on sex, race and religious creed this week

HARRISBURG, Aug. 18 – While the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission’s new regulations expand the definitions of “sex,” “race” and “religious creed,” Rep. La’Tasha D. Mayes, D-Allegheny, continues to advocate for codifying such regulations into law.

The PHRC’s new regulations expand the protected class of “sex” to include pregnancy status, childbirth status, breastfeeding status, sex assigned at birth, gender identity or expression, affectional or sexual orientation, and differences in sex development; clarify that the protected class “race” includes traits associated with race, including hair texture and hairstyles; and further defines “religious creed” to include all aspects of religious observance, practice and belief.

“While these new regulations expand protections for Pennsylvanians, we must codify these regulations into law,” Mayes said. “We must pass the Fairness Act and the CROWN Act in the Senate to enshrine these protections into law and prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, hair type, hair texture or hairstyle.”

Black people, especially Black women, experience hair discrimination most often in the workplace, prohibiting access to economic advancement, she noted.

The Fairness Act (H.B. 300), which Mayes co-sponsored with Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila.; Jessica Benham, D-Allegheny; Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny; Ismail Smith-Wade-El, D-Lancaster; and Greg Scott, D-Montgomery, passed the House Tuesday, May 2  by a 102-98 vote. The Fairness Act would prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. The CROWN Act (H.B. 1394), which Mayes sponsored with House Speaker Joanna McClinton, D-Phila., passed the House Friday, July 7 by a 182-21 vote. It would prohibit discrimination based on hair type, hair texture or hairstyle.

Additional information on the new regulations which became effective Aug. 16 is available here.