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United Way of Lancaster County


State Human Relations Commission forms Civil Rights Division

Chad Dion Lassiter, executive director of the Pa. Human Relations Commission, speaks at YWCA Lancaster on Monday, July 17, 2023. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission announced this week that it has created a Civil Rights Division.

Its duties will include “investigating civil tensions, conflicts, and incidents (and) enforcing anti-discrimination laws,” the commission said, as well as education and outreach “to foster a culture of acceptance and respect for all Pennsylvanians.”

The division will include a staff of civil rights outreach coordinators and a supervisor. The commission said it has a full slate of candidates and is conducting interviews.

“In recent years, we have witnessed a disturbing surge in hate crimes and acts of discrimination across the nation and in our commonwealth,” Commission Executive Director Chad Dion Lassiter said in a statement. “… We must take a stand against hate, intolerance, and discrimination in all its forms.

“We must work tirelessly to promote a culture of acceptance, respect, and equality. A dedicated Civil Rights Division within the PHRC will play a crucial role in this fight.”

Active since 1955, the commission is charged with enforcing Pennsylvania’s anti-discrimination law, including the Human Relations Act and the Fair Educational Opportunities Act.

“The creation of a permanent civil rights division is a critical step in the fight to root out hate and discrimination in our communities, our Commonwealth, and our Nation,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.