Pa. Township Adopts Rights Law; TV Station Gets Prurient
BY Trudy Ring
December 09 2011 10:40 PM ET
The municipal commission of Susquehanna Township, Pa., Thursday night adopted an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity — and one local TV station provided some transphobic coverage of the move.
The ordinance covers employment, housing, and public accommodations. It stipulates that a volunteer township human relations commission will hear complaints and mediate disputes, while forwarding some complaints to state agencies or local courts if necessary, The Patriot-News of Harrisburg reports.
State law does not cover discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and LGBT rights group Equality Pennsylvania is pushing for local ordinances to fill the gap. Susquehanna Township, in the central part of the state, is the 26th Pennsylvania municipality to enact such an ordinance.
While some media coverage of the action, like the report in The Patriot-News, was fairly straightforward, one Harrisburg TV station provided a bizarre and sensationalistic note. “The ordinance also makes it legal for men who think they’re women, and also men who think they are women, known as transgenders, to use the women’s/men’s restroom in the township,” reported WHP-TV, a CBS affiliate. The station’s reporting spent a great deal of time on public restroom use — including the possibility that some nontransgender men would don women’s clothes in order to use women’s restrooms for voyeuristic purposes.
In other news from Pennsylvania, Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter Friday signed an ordinance requiring that companies doing business with the city offer equal benefits to same-sex and opposite-sex spouses of their employees, as the city does for its workforce, Philadelphia Weekly reports. The City Council passed the ordinance last month.
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