In an era of intense scrutiny of the public school systems in Pennsylvania, it is heartening to see that the belt tightening necessitated by the Corbett Administration’s gutting of public education funding does not stop school districts from treating their employees fairly. This press release from Equality PA proves that the tide is in favor of equality and continues to sweep across the state, bit by bit even as statewide lawmakers hysterically predict the end of days in an equal secular society.
The City of Pittsburgh Public Schools offer domestic partner benefits. While the recent round of layoffs is maddening, it is good to see that the principles of equality and fairness did not get laid upon the chopping block.
Bethlehem Area School District (BASD) Approves Same-Sex Partner Benefits
Last night, during a public meeting, Bethlehem Area School Board Member Basilio Bonilla announced that the district would begin offering domestic partner benefits to same-sex partners of school district employees. The announcement regarded an administrative change by Superintendent Dr. Joseph Roy.
Equality Pennsylvania’s President, Adrian Shanker, was at the board meeting to provide testimony in support of the change. Shanker testified, “this policy is really about one thing: Equal pay for equal work. This school district has dozens of employees with same-sex spouses who are unable to legally marry in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. These teachers, janitors, administrators, and other staff members work hard to educate our community’s students and to create a safe and healthy learning environment for all kids. They deserve to be treated with equality by this school district regardless of whether the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania treats them with equality.” Shanker previously led the successful effort to win partner benefits for municipal employees in the Cities of Allentown and Easton.
Board Member Bonilla noted that this change was the most recent in a string of civil rights advances since the beginning of his term. The BASD action follows on the heels of other recent advances for relationship recognition in Pennsylvania, including marriage equality endorsements from the Mayor of Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.
Ted Martin, Executive Director of Equality Pennsylvania, noted, “The Bethlehem Area School District should be applauded for doing the right thing by their LGBT employees. There are people who really need these benefits, and thanks to commonsense school district leaders, they will get it.”