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New Ordinance Protects Etna Residents from Discrimination

Originally Published in March 2021-

Last November, the Etna Borough Council approved a new ordinance that prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations in the Borough because of sex, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability and other identifiers. This ordinance makes up for gaps that fail to protect members of the LGBTQI community in county, state, and federal ordinances. There are currently no explicit, comprehensive statewide laws establishing LGBTQI non-discrimination in Pennsylvania. The passage of Etna’s new ordinance is an important step forward in ensuring equal rights for all of our residents. As Etna Borough is committed to equity, this ordinance makes a statement to our community and our region that “Etna is for Everyone.” Councilwoman Jessica Semler, who championed the new ordinance, explained that

“LGBTQI folks may feel the need to conceal who they are when they navigate the world for fear of discrimination or bigotry. It was important to me to introduce this ordinance, especially as a queer woman myself, because making a statement about equity as an institution is profound, and explicitly tells our queer neighbors that Etna Borough has their back.”

The ordinance establishes the formation of the Nondiscrimination Committee - a group of Etna residents who will work with individuals who become involved in discrimination disputes. The goal of the committee is to resolve any issues that may arise by fostering communication and understanding. Furthermore, the committee will have an opportunity to inform the Borough during planning and design phases for projects and programs to make sure that equity plays a central role in shaping our community. They may also work together to conduct community outreach and education opportunities to help foster a community centered around kindness, empathy, and understanding. Ms. Semler expressed,

“While the commission will be empowered to address instances of discrimination, their broader purpose is to signal support and affirm marginalized groups in our community. When we make our community safer and more accepting of our more vulnerable neighbors, we are making a more inclusive environment for everyone.”

Look out next month for Part II of this article where we’ll be introducing the members of the Nondiscrimination Committee.


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