CommUnity Zone promotes “Human Relations Ordinance”

Local nonprofit CommUnity Zone is working to pass a Human Rights Ordinance which will protect the civil rights of all members and visitors to the Lewisburg community.

Harry Hobart, Contributing Writer

CommUnity Zone, a local nonprofit in downtown Lewisburg, is working to pass a Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) which, like other municipalities throughout Pennsylvania, “would honor the civil rights of anyone and prevent discrimination on the basis of race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender expression, genetic information, handicap or disability, use of guide or support animals because of the blindness, deafness or physical handicap of the user or because the user is a handler or trainer of support or guide animals.” Many of these rights are already protected at the state level; however, gender expression and sexual orientation are not. Other boroughs and towns have created their own ordinances, and Lewisburg strives to do the same. In her mission for CommUnity Zone, Co-Founder and Executive Director Cynthia Peltier believes, “we must all step up and take back control of our everyday lives.”

CommUnity Zone provides a place for all members of the community and the organizations that serve them to share ideas, talents and resources that aim to create a connected community. CommUnity Zone emphasizes coming together and reflecting on ways to become more self-sufficient, and rather than looking outside the community, looking to each other for solutions. The goal of CommUnity Zone is to help create a strong and thriving community which includes a vision in which all people are acknowledged for their contributions, and enjoy equality of access by promoting the expansion of diversity and social justice in the Central Susquehanna Valley. According to Peltier, “The guidance, the inspiration and the energy we need is available to us if we just look to each other with that essential commitment to work together.”

The HRO focuses on discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. The HRO does not interfere with religious organizations because they do not take government funds. The HRO will only be burdensome to businesses that discriminate: it will benefit most businesses by creating a welcoming community which attracts customers and employers. Individual business owners may also find that the HRO reflects the core values of their businesses.

This month, the Community Development/Planning will consider a draft of the ordinance. The CommD/Planning have three options. They can do nothing, they can recommend more changes to the proposed HRO so that it can be presented at a future CommD/Planning meeting, or they can recommend that whole Borough Council begin to consider the proposal.

Current Bucknell Student Government President Chandler Houldin ’20 is working with CommUnity Zone on this Human Rights Ordinance to extend its effects to the University’s student body. Houldin said he is “working to gain signatures for a petition on the University side which would affect students, faculty, and staff who live, shop, and eat in town.” He emphasized that “the HRO is meant to send a clear message to residents, workers, and visitors that Lewisburg is a borough that is welcoming to all.”

If you are interested in contributing to the petition for the Human Rights Ordinance you can contact Chandler Houldin at [email protected] or (806)-672-5915. If you would like to get involved with CommUnity Zone you can contact program director Cynthia Peltier at [email protected].

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