Under Pennsylvania law, physically assaulting a transgender student is not considered a hate crime. In addition, Pennsylvania is also one of 19 states that does not recognize sexual orientation in hate crime laws.
On Monday night, students and community members will urge the State College Borough Council to adopt legislation that will cover attacks that are motivated by orientation or gender identification to ensure the safety of LGBTQ students on campus.
Anthony Zarzycki, one of the students organizers felt that this was necessary following the Orlando attacks:
“I came up with an idea which would protect the LGBTQ community and which could garner support from both sides: including them in hate crime laws. This was previously already on the books but it was repealed in 2008 because of parliamentary error in how it was introduced. Every attempt afterward never made it out of committee. That is why I’m asking the Borough Council to include any ordinance required to assure those who have been targeted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity see their perpetrators face steeper consequences so that they can be rehabilitated and no longer threaten the LGBTQ community,” Zarzycki said.
The meeting will take place at the State College Municipal Building on Allen Street downtown at 7 p.m. Over the last few days, support for the victims of Orlando in State College community has been significant, including vigils with prominent attendees such as Penn State’s vice provost and county commissioners. In addition, the event’s Facebook page has garnered a lot of interest as well.
“I hope this will pass and [I] have faith our Borough Council will also err these concerns to the Pennsylvania General Assembly. State College and Penn State are forever interlinked and the capability of both areas to make progress which will insure safety for so many people is undoubtably,” Zarzycki said.
In addition, if you can’t attend the meeting, petitions will be available to sign from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Irving’s by the newspapers, Chumley’s and at the HUB information tables on the lower level.