Op-ed: Pa. still an equal-opportunity state

Posted: August 21, 2012

IT'S BEEN THREE years since 65 black and Hispanic children were asked not to come back to a suburban Philadelphia swim club - because of their skin color. If we've learned anything at all in Pennsylvania since then, it's this: No one should ever harm children and get away with it.

It is illegal to deny someone access to a public place or service based on their skin color. Business owners can't refuse you service because they don't like your race, skin color or ethnicity.

Under Pennsylvania law, if your business is open to, accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public, it is a public accommodation. That includes swimming pools, restaurants, theaters, stores, local and state governments, schools and a host of other places.

You can refuse to serve someone based on disruptive behavior or bare feet, not skin color.

Let's remember what we learned from the Valley Swim Club, now that the courts have settled the issue. Discrimination hurts children. It's illegal. Pennsylvania won't tolerate it.


JoAnn Edwards is executive director of the state Human Relations Commission.

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