Steps LGBTQ+ Workers Can Take if They’re Experiencing Discrimination in the Workplace

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

October 29, 2021

Workplace harassment

State and federal legislation prohibits any form of workplace discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual identity or sexual preference. If you identify as LGBTQ+, and have experienced any form of discrimination or harassment against you because of your status as a LGBTQ+ individual at work then you have the right to file a complaint with a state or federal anti discrimination body. Your employer cannot retaliate against you if you decide to take your complaint to a government anti discrimination agency for investigation or file a lawsuit against your employer.

You may have your complaint resolved or receive financial compensation if your complaint of a breach of anti discrimination legislation is upheld.

How LGBTQ+ Workers Face Discrimination in the Workplace

LGBTQ+ employees may face various forms of discrimination or harassment while at work. The acts against them may be from a co-worker, a supervisor, manager or the employer. Harassment because of one’s sexual or gender identity is commonplace and may be in the form of taunts, insults, physical or sexual threats or assault. Intimidation may be verbal, or in the form of written comments made through a social media forum, by text messaging, email, notes or letters.

Direct or indirect acts of discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ workers may include any one or a combination of the following:

Steps When Filing a Claim for Discrimination as a LGBTQ+ Employee

Before taking any action after experiencing discrimination or harassment, ensure you have proof, preferably documentary proof, or an audio recording of comments, insults, phone calls etc. Keep a note of dates, times, what happened, who was involved, whether there were credible witnesses, etc.

If you feel able to do so, file a letter of complaint with your supervisor, HR department or employer depending on your workplace, explaining what you have experienced. Keep a copy of correspondence and any response you obtain.

If your employer does not respond or fails to resolve your complaint, the next step is to file a complaint with either your state anti discrimination agency or department such as a Human Rights Commission, or the federal equivalent, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC). The EEOC will investigate complaints of discrimination within workplaces of 15 or more employees. The state of Pennsylvania with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission will also cooperate with the EEOC on a work-share arrangement.

These agencies have a time limit within which you need to file your complaint, which could be 180 to 365 days from the date of the act of discrimination.

If investigators cannot resolve your complaint, then you will normally be given permission to take further legal action of your own. This means filing a lawsuit against your employer based on a breach of anti discrimination laws, such as the federal Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Compensation Possible if a LGBTQ+ Discrimination Claim is Upheld

You may receive financial compensation if your discrimination claim is upheld. You may also have your job reinstated or discrimination reversed. Penalties against your employer in the form of fines or even more serious charges (i.e. if there was a crime involved) may be imposed by the court.

Back pay could be paid out, as well as compensation for emotional or psychological distress caused by the acts of discrimination against you. In more serious cases where you have been the victim of particularly malicious behavior or acts, you may be awarded punitive damages.

Resources Via

  • https://www.eeoc.gov/statutes/title-vii-civil-rights-act-1964
  • https://employmentlawhelp.org/wrongful-termination/turned-down-sexual-orientation
  • https://employmentlawhelp.org/wrongful-termination/sexual-orientation
  • https://www.phrc.pa.gov/File-a-Compliant/Pages/How-to-File-a-Complaint.aspx

This post was contributed by Employment Law Help

2021 GAYLA November 14th

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

October 26, 2021

2021 GAYLA

The Night We’ve Been Dreaming of is Finally Here!

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition will celebrate Queer identity, found family, and the third anniversary of our launch at our QUEER GAYLA at Tellus360 on Sunday, November 14th!

Attendees are encouraged to come dressed in their galactic best to be seen and adored on our Rainbow Carpet! Michelle Johnsen will be on-site assisting with photography, and an exclusive signature cocktail will be available all night long.

Awards Ceremony ticket holders will join our Galactic MC Chi Chi Mizrahi at 5PM on a journey through the stars, honoring changemakers in the Lancaster community. After 7PM, everyone’s invited to our intergalactic dance party featuring a live mix by DJ Salinger!

Tickets are available for purchase here.

Masks and proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be mandatory for this in-person event.

Queer State of the Union

Karen Foley

October 22, 2021

“I have no room in my heart for hatred and frankly, I do not have time for intolerance.

Dr. Rachel Levine, Secretary of Health

Pride is this Sunday. We are happy to attend, but we do not run Pride anymore. Marginalized communities too often split and divide in the face of adversity. Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition was founded because of this exact issue. We are too often ready to cut people off, divide and blame when things get hard. We need to support and hold space for every intersection of our community. We don’t have to like each other, but we need to move together in the same general direction or we will continue to stay marginalized. We are happy to support, because know how important it is for us to celebrate; Pride gives us a day to be in the majority, and lets us connect to our love for each other and for the queer kid in Ephrata who made it through the year despite the odds. This year is different. 

We all believe that all children should be protected and given opportunities to live courageous, full and authentic lives. Right now, our children’s rights are under attack in a more vengeful way than they ever have been in the past and the heat is focused on our trans and nonbinary children. So many of us are burned out and forget what it feels like to be in celebration. But we are not giving up. We may be tired of fighting, but we are not beaten down. We will keep fighting. We need you to fight with us.

We are now careening towards an Extra Give that once again includes organizations that allow oppressors to run alongside the oppressed. We need you to help us house our homeless because there are no beds available or enough affirming shelters. We need your support for our LGBTQ+ Health Consortium because we are still teaching our doctors about our health and bodies because most local medical facilities don’t even understand how to provide culturally humble and proficient medical care. We need you to help repair the damage the pandemic has done to our community that was already isolated and broken before the pandemic. We need you to help us with copay assistance and housing for our elders because we refuse to let the people who fought for their lives in the AIDS epidemic go back into the closet in retirement. 

The Extra Give is a perfect metaphor for Lancaster County at large. We live this every day. We need your help for direct service for our community, which desperately needs it, and we’ll continue to move the dial towards progress a little bit each day. We commit every day to the idea that we must coalesce as marginalized communities because we can’t afford to divide and settle. But we can’t do it without your help. 

My ask is this: think before you give. Give to equitable organizations like Patients R Waiting, who jumped for joy to partner with us on their vaccination clinics for Pride Month in June. Give to Common Wheel who gave our HEART Residents bikes, to Disability Empowerment Center and CAP, to folks who are humbling and doing the hard work of righting the wrongs of a legacy of hatred and bigotry.

Give to the organizations that truly need your help right now. If you truly believe Black Lives Matter and are attending Pride, give equitably and give generously if you have the privilege. Even if you’re mad at us for yelling at you because we demanded justice, or taking on too much and messing up, give grace to people and be kinder — and show up and do something. If you want to pledge your support, reach out to us at info@lgbtlancaster.org for more info.

But don’t just show up to Pride, show up with your sleeves rolled up and take action against hate every single day. Be for something and do something. Like the Steinman Foundation creating an Equity Prize and the Lancaster County Community Foundation launching the LGBT Giving Circle. Don’t come to us for our opinion on how to deal with a bigoted organization, go to them. Make a stand and say “enough is enough.”

We need your help to so we can be free to love who we love, to express our lived identity, for our teens to not continue dying from suicide at alarming rates because of hate, bullying, and lack of access to gender affirming care. We shouldn’t have to shrug our shoulders when we are forced to move our vaccination clinic because of religious bigotry. We do not deserve to fear that a trans woman will die in a male cell block because she had no choice but to risk her life in protest of police violence.

So when it comes to celebrating Pride and the Extra Give, remember this: Black Lives Matter, silence = death, religious freedom is not an excuse for hate, love is love is love. Happy Pride y’all! 🏳️‍🌈

PRAY AWAY Screening Nov. 3

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

October 12, 2021

Pray Away Poster

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition is hosting a screening of Ryan Murphy and Jason Blum’s new documentary Pray Away, 6PM November 3rd at Zoetropolis!

Pray Away focuses on the narratives surrounding anti-LGBTQ+ conversion “therapy.” The film profiles former leaders of the “pray the gay away” movement who must contend with the aftermath of their actions, and a survivor who finds healing and acceptance after over a decade of trauma.

Conversion “therapy” practices attempt to change the sexual orientation or gender identities of LGBTQ+ individuals. As of the time of this writing, there are no state laws prohibiting this harmful practice in Pennsylvania.

While there is a global movement underway to ban this appalling practice, laws alone won’t be enough to stop the harm. The vast majority of conversion efforts take place within organizations and ministries protected by the First Amendment, which means ending conversion therapy for good will require continued education and strategies to encourage cultural progress.

Register your interest here! In lieu of tickets, we will be accepting donations at the door to get in. Attendants must be fully vaccinated and masked

Want to support the Coalition, its programs, and its mission to create an equitable Lancaster County community? Donate today!

October 2021 Tabling Events!

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

October 11, 2021

Coalition staff stand at a Coalition-branded table

Autumn is Queer season and we’re out and about! Drop by our table at these events to get FREE STI test kits and information about the Coalition’s new activities!

  • October 17 @ Planned Parenthood
    Swing by to get a free STI test kit — it’s always better to know for sure! — and bring a hygiene product donation for our HEART Program
  • October 24 @ Lancaster Pride
    Celebrate Queer identity and community with us at Lancaster Pride! Our table will be right in front so be sure to stop by!

On Gender Policing in Sports

Ellie Cochran

September 7, 2021

Gender policing in sports has a blatantly racist history, often being disproportionately performed on Black woman athletes regardless of whether their gender identity conforms with their birth assignment. Even just this year, former Polish sprinter Marcin Urbas requested Olympics organizers run a “thorough test” on Namibian athlete Christine Mboma to “find out if she definitely is a woman” after she ran a semi-final time of 21.97 seconds in the women’s 200-meter race. Mboma, an intersex athlete, was not allowed to run her signature 400-meter race due to “elevated testosterone levels.”

Including transgender athletes in sports categories that match their gender identity is the correct thing to do, full stop. Aside from being the affirming thing to do, the underlying assumptions most cisgender people make about trans bodies to justify their exclusion are incorrect from the start, and reactionary transphobes fail to consider the repercussions that gender policing in sports has on everyone, cis athletes included.

Olympic Athlete Christine Mboma

Since 2018, cis athletes including South Africa’s Caster Semenya, Kenya’s Margaret Wambui, Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba, Namibia’s Beatrice Masilingi and others have all been banned from competing in Olympic events due to regulations surrounding differences in hormonal development. What these short-sighted and racist policies fail to take into account is the fact that training always trumps biology.

Even the occasional mutations that give a genuine biological advantage—for example, Michael Phelps’ wingspan and double-jointed ankles—aren’t gendered and aren’t useful without relevant training and practice. “One high jumper could be taller and have longer legs than another, but the other could have perfect form, and then do better,” explained Andraya Yearwood, a student track athlete and ACLU client, “One sprinter could have parents who spend so much money on personal training for their child, which in turn, would cause that child to run faster.”

The idea that there are distinct “male” and “female” hormones is misleading. Who would accuse a female-assigned cisgender woman who has elevated testosterone levels of not being a woman? In fact, ovaries themselves produce testosterone. Everybody has varying levels of chemistry determining the effects their endocrine system has on their body. Why choose to discriminate on this rather than any other biological variable, such as lung capacity or limb length or foot size?

South African athlete Caster Semenya, who was subjected to "gender testing" after the 2009 athletics world championships
South African athlete Caster Semenya, who was subjected to “gender testing” after the 2009 athletics world championships

But what about trans athletes specifically? The thing is, trans people don’t have any specific advantages categorically, since trans people come in all heights, shapes, and sizes! According to New York Endocrinologist and Executive Director of the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery Dr. Joshua D Safer, “A person’s genetic make-up and internal and external reproductive anatomy are not useful indicators of athletic performance.” Even if a trans athlete is taller than a competitor, height doesn’t really convey an advantage either—Serena Williams is 5’9″ and still has many more grand slam titles than her taller peers.

Ultimately, the gender divide in sports is another example of a false binary that cisgender society has convinced itself is dictated by something other than consensus agreement. A trans woman who takes estrogen will have about the same muscle density and ability to generate muscle as a cis woman. Likewise, a trans man who takes testosterone can generate about the same muscle density as a cis man. Athletes regardless of hormonal chemistry achieve similar strength gains when training under the same program, and runners who are capable of similar performances do not vary widely in body composition. Wouldn’t it ultimately make more sense to bracket athletes by weight class or a similar metric rather than gender? The goal of making a talking point out of gender inclusivity in sports has never been about fairness or a love of competition—it’s a thinly-veiled push to exclude trans people from society and perpetuate a culture that sees trans identities as shameful.

Visit Our Table at Recovery Day Lancaster!

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

August 30, 2021

Visit the Coalition's table at Recovery Day Lancaster Saturday, September 11 from 10 AM to 3 PM

A 2016 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that the number of Queer community members reporting illicit drug use disorders is twice as many as their cis/het peers. According to GLAAD’s 2020 Accelerating Acceptance survey, people who identify as gay or lesbian are more than twice as likely to have a “severe” alcohol or tobacco use disorder than their het peers, people who identify as bisexual are three times as likely to develop a substance use disorder, and transgender students are two and a half times more likely to use drugs than cis students.

These alarming statistics are due in part to the unique difficulties faced by the Queer community due to outdated legal, religious, and ethical practices leading to Queerphobia and discrimination. It’s vital that members of the LGBTQ+ communities have access to empathetic and comprehensive treatment options within a community which supports addiction recovery. That’s why we’ll be hosting a table at Recovery Day Lancaster September 11 at Buchanan Park!

Recovery Day Lancaster is a celebration of healing which helps to normalize addiction recovery as a healthy and contributing factor towards a strong community. Recovery is more sustainable in a welcoming and supportive environment, so join us starting at 9:30 AM for a 5K walk for recovery, unity circle, and performances from Half Past Dead and Octavia Blues Band. There will be vendors, games, crafts, and more all day — so drop by and say hi!

Learn more about the event at lancastercountyrecovery.com

Hempfield Trans Athlete’s Rights Protest Reportback

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

July 14, 2021

support trans students

On Tuesday, July 13, over 300 people from the Lancaster community gathered outside Hempfield High School to support transgender students desiring to participate in high school athletics. The school board was meeting to hear from district residents and presumably decide the issue. Currently, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association relegates the decision regarding transgender athlete participation to local high school principals.  

After hearing from 80 speakers the Board ultimately decided to hire a law firm to assist in establishing a school district policy on the matter. The Independence Law Center, which  “works to preserve religious liberty, promote marriage and the family, and protect human life,” was nominated and approved. This is a conservative Christian group hired with tax dollars without due process of bidding. It seemed evident to those in attendance that this motion to hire this particular religious law firm to establish policy was pre-planned. A conservative religious group should not be making policy for a public high school. The school board, as a publicly elected entity should make decisions based on facts and best practice, not religious based beliefs which endanger the lives and exclude others who don’t share their faith. 

Hempfield parent Jamie Beth Cohen, who has been involved in school and college sports her entire life, wrote to the board to urge them not to ban trans athletes from competing:

The suicide statistics for LGBTQIA+ students are chilling, and make no mistake, bans like the one Hempfield may be considering contribute to the alienation of students that in turn can contribute to suicidal ideation and action. I urge you to follow the facts and the science.

I say this with respect for all athletes at all levels of play: Sports are important AND the lives of our most vulnerable students are more important. Make no mistake, this is a life and death matter. And I can’t sit back and watch as trans athletes are excluded from the life-giving and life-affirming benefits of playing sports with their peers.

There are no pre-determined criteria for the way women’s bodies must be — even cisgender people can have hormone levels outside the range considered typical for their assigned sex, or could be intersex. The reality of these discriminatory bans has no basis in science and serves only to invite gender policing which could subject any woman to invasive tests or questions about personal medical information. They exist only to exclude trans people, and reinforce the idea that trans individuals are to be shunned in society.

Coach and sports policy expert Helen Caroll noted in a 2020 declaration, “For the past nine years, transgender athletes have been able to compete on teams at NCAA member collegiates and universities consistent with their gender identity like all other student-athletes with no disruption to women’s collegiate sports.”

Representatives from Lancaster Stands Up, The ACLU, YWCA, and Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition are continuing to work together to ensure that trans students are heard and supported, and that uninformed, phobic, and discriminatory policies will be challenged.

Please join us virtually on Sunday, July 18th at 8pm, as we process the multitude of emotions, events, and harm done this week as we fight for the humanity of our transgender/non-binary community members. This will be a private space to share thoughts and feelings, as well as resources for our continued work towards collective liberation. Pre-registration is required. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Click here to register.

Last Weekend of Pride Month Events

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

June 23, 2021

Saturday, June 26: Cure Dispensary Pride Day

Access to affirming healthcare is a vital aspect of Queer life. As with many marginalized groups, the demand for healthcare exists but Queer individuals struggle to navigate medical institutions which don’t understand or cater to our unique experience.

That’s why we’re excited to be working with Cure Dispensary for their Pride Day celebrations! From noon to 7 PM, swing by for music, free home STI test kits, discounts, and pride swag! Bring a sanitation product for a $5 discount on your order! All customers must have a medical marijuana card to enter the dispensary.

Accepted sanitation items are:

  • Deodorant
  • Tampons
  • Pads
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toilet Paper
  • Baby Diapers (sizes 4-6)
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Body Wash
  • Paper Towels
  • Baby Wipes
  • Cleaning Supplies

Sunday, June 27: Salsa & MerenGay

Join us on Sunday between 8AM and 5PM at McCaskey High School for Salsa & MerenGay: an LGBTQ+ inclusive salsa lesson in partnership with Patients R Waiting and Union Community Care’s Health Equity NOW initiative! DJ Ecliptic will be performing from 2-5PM, and we’ll be handing out free home STI test kits for National HIV Testing Day.

Afterward, swing by High Fever’s pride-themed party at Marion Court from 2-7PM to catch a drag show, food and drinks, and a free home STI test kit. Admission is $10.

Vote Yes to Equality!

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

June 21, 2021

Protect the LGBTQ+ Community from discrimination

Happy Pride! We’re celebrating by staying focused on passing federal nondiscrimination protections like the ones outlined in the Equality Act. Because what better way to commemorate Pride than by fully protecting all Americans from discrimination?

Pride month is our biggest opportunity yet to engage the LGBTQ community and allies in helping to get this critical legislation passed, which is why we’re asking you to contact your Senators and tell them to VOTE YES TO EQUALITY! 

The urgency here is real. Discrimination is still commonplace for LGBTQ Americans, and in 29 states, LGBTQ people are at risk of being refused housing or denied services simply because of who they are. Full federal nondiscrimination protections like the ones outlined in the Equality Act would ensure that all Americans can live, work, and access public spaces free from discrimination, no matter what state they call home.

Take action today by contacting your Senators by email or phone.  It’s so easy – just a few clicks will get it done.  You can even record a 30-second video!  Simply follow the prompts.