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Innovation & Growth Initiative: Montgomery County Benchmark
Learn about Abington's Next Century. To access a white paper that compares Abington to the rest of Montgomery County, click here >
From Ward 1 Commissioner Kline
From Ward 1 Commissioner Kline (in 2011 and 2012)
The ADL, which formed the “No Place for Hate” (NPFH) program has told the township that NPFH is not to be used for adjudicating a non-discrimination ordinance. They state that NPFH is a community building and education tool and that they support the formation of a separate Human Relations Commission (HRC) to adjudicate this type of ordinance.
It is not illegal to discriminate against someone who is lesbian or gay in Pennsylvania. There are no protections under Federal or State laws from someone denying housing, employment or public accommodation in the State of Pennsylvania.
The PA Human Relation Act (PAHRA) does not include Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) population in its list of protected classes, however does allow for local municipalities to enact ordinances expanding the list of protected classes. This was tested in the PA Supreme Court and the court upheld the right of a community to do so.
Ward 15 Commissioner Schreiber introduced a Non- Discrimination Ordinance early last fall that was similar to the ordinance passed by Hatboro. This version included the formation of a volunteer HRC.
We have not been given any evidence that there is an epidemic in the township of this type of discrimination. However, because this type of discrimination is not illegal, it would be hard to gauge the amount occurrence because they are not reported. That being said, all too much of what we do as commissioners is reactive. This ordinance gives us a chance to be proactive. It is well known that discrimination against this sect of our society occurs. We have seen it and heard it. I am not willing to let go without addressing it.
Several versions have been floated since the 2011.
(There will be a Public Affairs hearing on February 29, 2012 at 7:30 pm)
Hate vs. Discrimination?
Hearing on Proposed Ordinance on April 12
On March 8, according to Abington Patch, "The Abington Board of Commissioners OK’d a motion late last night allowing for the advertisement of a public hearing to consider an anti-discrimination ordinance; the motion passed by a vote of 11-4 and the hearing will be held Thursday April 12." Mitcha Arnosky wrote "Abington Board of Commissioners President Carol DiJoseph and Public Affairs Committee chairman Robert Wachter both stressed that the agenda item was to discuss whether the hearing for the proposed ordinance should be advertised, not whether the township should adopt the ordinance. But it didn’t matter. Many residents stepped up to the lectern to lambast the proposed ordinance, which would prohibit discrimination in the township on the basis of sexual orientation, sexual identity or sexual expression; the ordinance, should it pass, would also establish a human relations commission."
CLICK HERE to download the proposed ordinance in Abington and judge for yourself. Please attend the April 12 hearing if you would like to express an informed point-of-view on the topic.
Abington is No Place for Hate
The Abington Township web site contains the following pledge: I promise to try to respect ALL people, including those who are different from me. I promise to do my best to make our community no place for hate. Visit the page here, which contains very little information that would show that Abington Township takes this pledge seriously. There are no links to other web pages or sites that demonstrate what Abington is doing to make this pledge a positive reality, or to invite citizens to participate in the program. Activists from other communities who visit the site would easily conclude that this is a PR effort, not a vital part of what makes Abington one of the best places to live in America. As a result, there are some residents from Abington and many other communities who would like to introduce a new ordinance all together.
Abington's pledge (download here) is based on the nationally-recognized resolution by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) – see below. ADL's mission "to fight anti-Semitism…and to seek fair treatment for all citizens alike." This mission is inclusive, and places all citizens on a equal level, against all forms of prejudice and discrimination. As you will see, it is a pledge and does not contain a way to assure that behavior aligns with the vision and mission.
ADL's "No Place for Hate" Resolution of Respect
I pledge from this day forward to do my best to combat prejudice and to stop those who, because of hate or ignorance, would hurt anyone or violate their civil rights. I will try at all times to be aware of my own biases and seek to gain understanding of those who I perceive as being different from myself. I will speak out against all forms of prejudice and discrimination. I will reach out to support those who are targets of hate. I will think about specific ways my community members can promote respect for people and create a prejudice-free zone. I firmly believe that one person can make a difference and that no person can be an "innocent" bystander when it comes to opposing hate. I recognize that respecting individual dignity, achieving equality and promoting intergroup harmony are the responsibilities of all people. By signing this pledge, I commit myself to creating a community that is No Place for Hate. Sign the Resolution >
Abington School District
The following proclamation was adopted by the Abington Board of School Directors at its February 11, 2003 meeting in cooperation with Abington Township and other community groups and agencies to create a climate where there will be intolerance for hate, to promote respect for individual and group differences, and to prevent hate crimes.
“NO PLACE FOR HATE” PROCLAMATION
WHEREAS: All acts of subtle and overt racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and ethnic bigotry substantially undermine our communities, schools, and the promise of equal justice;
WHEREAS: Our nation was founded on the fundamental conviction that all persons are entitled to equal protection, equal opportunity, and to the enjoyment of civil rights;
WHEREAS: The strength of our nation is derived from the growing diversity of our common ties and;
WHEREAS: The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and other coalition members are sponsoring a program designed to help communities develop and take specific actions to combat bias and to promote respect for people and;
WHEREAS: On this date, February 11, 2003, Abington School District has committed to fulfill the criteria to be declared No Place for Hate and;
WHEREAS: We can begin to solve the problem of hate and to build bridges to different communities only by taking strategic and specific actions to promote a sense of welcome and inclusion.
NOW, THEREFORE, We, the Board of School Directors of Abington School District, do hereby proclaim that Abington School District will maintain a policy of zero tolerance for hate crimes and will do our best to interrupt prejudice and stop those who, because of hate, would hurt, harass, or violate the civil rights of anyone. We also pledge ourselves to continue to mobilize key leadership segments of our school community to creatively address any issue that will help to promote a recognition and encouragement of diversity.
We encourage all residents of the Abington School District community to take cognizance of this proclamation and participate fittingly in its observance.
President, Abington School Board
Equal Protection for All
The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution contains a clause that provides for equal protection of all citizens, which has become part of our culture. Read the 14th Amendment HERE.
Yet, there are still individuals who are racist, age-biased, anti-semetic, gender-biased and/or discriminate against LGBT individuals and Americans with disabilities. There is no question that every citizen has a right to life, liberty and the persuit of happiness and that those who commit hate crimes or hurt others through overt disrimination are living outside of our cultural norms and a number of federal regulations and statutes.
Abington School District has already updated its policies. The question is whether Abington Township will amend No Place for Hate to be even more effective or create yet another ordinance and bureaucracy that responds to one special interest group, rather than look at rights of all citizens?
2011 Policy Statement
The Abington School District approved the following policy in 2011:
District is committed to equal opportunity without discrimination by reason of race, color, national origin/ethnicity, veteran status, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, or religion.
The District will provide equality of opportunity in employment by preventing against discrimination, investigating allegations of discrimination and correcting discriminatory behavior if found to exist within the district. The language in this policy is not intended to confer employee fringe benefits that are not otherwise provided for under existing employee compensation plans or collective bargaining agreements.
Equal Opportunity Policy Statement
The School District also set forth this statement in 2011:
The Abington Board of School Directors recognizes the importance of diversity and of having qualified minority and under-represented classes of professionals in administrative, teaching, extra duty positions, and support employee positions. To this end, the Board of School Directors establishes this policy of Equal Employment to ensure that all recruitment, placement, compensation, training, and promotions are non- discriminatory and are based upon individual merit, ability, and performance. All personnel actions and conditions of employment will be administered without regard to race, color, national origin/ethnicity, veteran status, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, or religion. The District will undertake measures to recruit minority and disabled applicants and other classes.
What, if anything, should Abington do?
The question here is whether the Township needs to add a new ordinance after it recommended that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania do so. The legislation entitled HB 300 was endorsed the idea of expand LGBT rights in the PA Human Relations Act. Is it possible that an ordinance can be created that is fair to all and will not create undo bureaucracy?
To read the existing PA Human Relations Act CLICK HERE.
EXCERPT: Pennsylvania Human Relations ActThis is a relevant part of the Act is it does not include mention of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender (LGBT) individuals as covered groups. The question for attorneys is whether the legislative intent is to exclude these individuals. There is legislation in the pipeline to potential amend this act, but municipalities are taking it into their own hands to add the LGBT class into this list:
(a) For any employer because of the race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex, national origin or non-job related handicap or disability or the use of a guide or support animal because of the blindness, deafness or physical handicap of any individual or independent contractor, to refuse to hire or employ or contract with, or to bar or to discharge from employment such individual or independent contractor, or to otherwise discriminate against such individual or independent contractor with respect to compensation, hire, tenure, terms, conditions or privileges of employment or contract, if the individual or independent contractor is the best able and most competent to perform the services required. The provision of this paragraph shall not apply, to (1) operation of the terms or conditions of any bona fide retirement or pension plan which have the effect of a minimum service requirement, (2) operation of the terms or conditions of any bona fide group or employe insurance plan, (3) age limitations placed upon entry into bona fide apprenticeship programs of two years or more approved by the State Apprenticeship and Training Council of the Department of Labor and Industry, established by the act of July 14, 1961, known as "The Apprenticeship and Training Act." Notwithstanding any provision of this clause, it shall not be an unlawful employment practice for a religious corporation or association to hire or employ on the basis of sex in those certain instances where sex is a bona fide occupational qualification because of the religious beliefs, practices, or observances of the corporation, or association.
Sources and References:
PA Inter-Agency Task Force on Civil Tension
PA Human Relations Commission
No Place for Hate - Abington Township
No Place for Hate - Abington School District
0 comments by Members are their personal opinions (see RMCA policies)
Civil Rights Leadership Conference
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