ACSI PA/MD/NJ/NY/WV Legislative Action Center

Action Alert

PA Human Relation Commission Redefines Gender

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) is proposing a dangerous end-run around the legislature and the people that seriously threatens your personal privacy and religious liberty. Here are the details in a nutshell:  For nearly 50 years, the PA Human Relations Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of "sex." Throughout all those decades, sex has always been defined in law and practice to mean "male" and "female."  Now, the PA Human Relations Commission is looking to effectively redefine "sex"  (the word as it appears in the law) to mean "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression" (phrases that are not in the law). 
Based on what we've seen in other jurisdictions:
  • This action would enable the PHRC to force open locker rooms & dressing rooms, showers and restrooms in schools, stores, movie theaters, churches and businesses to those of the opposite sex that identify otherwise. To put it more simply, it would allow physical males into women's showers and restrooms, and women into men's rooms.
  • This action would empower the PHRC to prevent religious schools, ministries and other faith-oriented organizations from hiring only those that abide by the standards established by that faith.  For example, Christian schools would no longer be able to solely hire teachers and staff members that adhere to and live by Christian teachings on human sexuality, marriage, and gender. Because if it's considered discrimination for a school to refuse to hire someone on the basis of sexual orientation, we're going to have a hard time communicating our values to the next generation.
  • This action could eventually force homeless shelters, camp cabins and school and college dorms to open up to those of the opposite sex that identify otherwise.  Imagine forcing a shelter for abused women to admit a person - male in every way, except how he identifies - in amongst the other residents. This proposal would empower the PHRC to force that.
What is the status of this? The PHRC just issued proposed guidance saying that it believes sex means sexual orientation and gender identity. But it is seeking comment from the public through May 26. Such comments should be sent to Please submit comments to Christina Reese at
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