Know Your LGBT’s


Know Your LGBT’s

By Stephanie Hoehn, Staff Writer

When the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2015 it was received with both a slew of outrage from some and happiness for those who were fighting for it. For some the outrage has translated into focused physical aggression against transgender individuals. In most states transgender individuals are not legally protected against discrimination.[1] Pennsylvania has implemented policies protecting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender [LGBT] community; however, it has no legislation covering transgender healthcare discrimination and hate crimes. Id. Reportedly, an estimated 74% of transgender people have experienced harassment both in the workplace and at school according to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. Id.

Currently there are multiple bills pending legislation in Pennsylvania, including the Transgender Health Benefits Act, the Equality Act, and the Transgender Student Rights Act. Id.

The Transgender Health Benefits Act (THBA), or HB 304, aims to include health care coverage for trans-specific needs in all Pennsylvania healthcare systems including Medicaid, private insurance, and public insurance. [4] There are currently very few transition-related services available on the state level. Id. The THBA would require coverage of hormone therapy, mental health counseling, and surgery by all insurance companies for transgender individuals. Id. In addition, more private insurance companies are expanding their coverage to provide for transition-related services through the health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act. Id.

The Equality Act, which expands on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, would protect LGBT individuals from discrimination in credit and lending, public education, employment, housing, federal funding, jury service, and public accommodations. [2] The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an organization that influences and guides judges’ legal interpretations, has already voted in favor of the Equality Act. [3]

The Transgender Student Rights Act, or HB 303, would permit students to dress, participate in activities, and be in spaces consistent with their gender identity, regardless of the gender listed on their school records.[5] As was seen with the University of Pittsburgh, when they expelled a student for using the bathroom of the student’s preferred gender, this bill is the least likely to pass due to its public implications. Currently individuals are allowed to dress in a manner that conforms to their gender identity in Pennsylvania; however, they are not allowed to do many other things specific to their gender identity. Id. If passed it would allow individuals to use the restroom associated with their gender identity, participate in gender specific sports teams in school, and dress the way they feel most comfortable. Id.


[1] Kari Larsen, Transgender in Pennsylvania, (October 19, 2015),


[2] Kari Larsen, The Equality Act; how a transgender rights bill would affect Pennsylvania, (October 19, 2015),


[3] Marissa Taylor, LGBT discrimination amounts to sex discrimination EOEC rules, (October 19, 2015),


[4] Representative Mark Cohen, Transgender Health Benefits Act, (October 19, 2015),


[5]  Representative Mark Cohen, Transgender Student Rights, (October 19, 2015),



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