The LGBTQ + Advisory Council hosted a letter-writing evening at McFeely’s Cafe from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday to push the Township of Shippensburg to pass a nondiscrimination ordinance.
The event consisted of educating students on the importance of the ordinance and adding signatures to a petition, but mainly urged campus members to write letters to township supervisors expressing support for explicit protections against the discrimination in the Township of Shippensburg.
The nondiscrimination order (NDO) in question would provide protection against employment, housing and public discrimination on the basis of gender expression or identity and sexual orientation.
“What we want to try to do is build the capacity to really get things done,” said Jayleen Galarza, professor of social work and co-chair of the LGBTQ + Advisory Council. “The students have a powerful voice… You are contributing to the surrounding city. “
Pennsylvania has not passed legislation granting this particular security, so municipalities must adopt such policies themselves. Pennsylvania’s current human relations law does not provide specific protections for gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. The district of Shippensburg has adopted an NDO, but the township has not yet made a decision to do so. “I think people take that for granted and think these things just happen. The reality is that it is not. No protection, no legislation, no policy just happens, ”Galarza said.
The Letter Writing Party has sought to highlight the absence of such policies, which often go unnoticed. Students make up a large part of the community of Shippensburg, and although some do not reside there permanently, those on campus and the surrounding city may be affected by this lack of protection.
Mike Fox, a Masters of Social Work (MSW) student and intern at the Pride Center, considers not only the comfort level of the incoming student body, but also the effect on the surrounding areas. “[An NDO] sends a clear message to the community about what we value. Anyone who runs a business, hires people, rents premises or gives loans, has a sense in their community that this is the way it is here, ”they said. “The progression to rights for all is a journey, and it’s like adding patches or layers to a quilt. “
When asked what students unable to attend the event could do to support this cause, many offered suggestions. “I would invite people to investigate what is upset them about what is going on in their community and focus on that, and understand how we are changing that,” said Christina Zeigler, MSW student and intern. at the Pride Center. “Go to a city of Shippensburg meeting, explain why this is important and humanize the aspect of why we need an NDO,” she said.
Galarza encourages students to always take action and to contact the LGBTQ + Advisory Council if they are interested in doing so.
An NDO may not seem like a meaningful ordinance, but those in attendance spoke about the weight of policy adoption. “I don’t see this as protection for me, because it’s supposed to be protection for everyone,” said Ted Shylock, intern for the Shippensburg Community Research Coalition. “If you think of these things like, ‘What are they going to do for me? You are definitely going to exclude people. It’s okay to sign something because you know you’ll be protected by it – I think it’s helpful – but I think the reason we have to do this is because there has been a mentality of “What am I going to get out of it?” ” Rather than ‘What can we benefit from? “”
The link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe7egi_dAx_c6O8v5C8RNYSW4ypQCk0K7vifpMkZ-92if6Z1A/viewform leads to the petition for the creation of an NDO in the Township of Shippensburg and a fact sheet compiled by Alithia Zamantakis, Director of LGBTQ + Programs and Services, which provides more information on the subject.
If you are interested in learning more about the NDO or have any concerns, contact the LGBTQ + Advisory Council through Co-Chairs Galarza ([email protected]) or Nicole Santalucia ([email protected]), a professor of English. The Pride Center can be contacted using [email protected], or by stopping by the Pride Center Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.