STROUDSBURG, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) Some business owners are concerned about a new ordinance passed in their borough. it aims to protect people against discrimination– especially those of the L-G-B-T community. But the ordinance also addresses a controversial topic, and now, it’s taking some heat. Eyewitness News Reporter Brianna Strunk explains why.
Allen Brown owns “Pocono Barbers” on Main Street in Stroudsburg. One page of the borough’s new “human relations ordinance” caught his attention.
It says businesses must let a transgender customer use whichever bathroom he or she identifies with. Allen Brown- told Eyewitness News “I’ve heard of it in the nation, but its coming closer to home, as things usually do.”
He says there could be problems enforcing the ordinance and wonders what it means for schools in Stroudsburg.
“I think it could pose some safety issues” He added.
Council Member Matt Abell introduced this ordinance. “We’re not looking to dictate the way anyone does their business. We just want all customers to be treated with dignity” “
According to the ordinance, Stroudsburg would form a human relations commission to review discrimination complaints”
Ideally, both sides in the complaint would go before the commission to find a solution. If no remedy is reached, the commission votes to decide if the claim’s legitimate. from a practical point of view,
Stroudsburg’s Mayor Tarah Probst sees problems. “The way this ordinance is written, if someone doesn’t show up for their meeting or whatever they’re calling it in this document, then it goes away. so they’re not going to be heard. I mean, it’s so unfair”
Current Pennsylvania law doesn’t specifically protect the LGBT community against discrimination.
Abell says if the state won’t do it, the borough will do what it can. “My goal is to protect everyone equally under the law”
Mayor Probst supports LGBT rights, but doesn’t believe this ordinance is the answer. She thinks this issue should be addressed at the state or county level instead. “I would prefer a judge making that decision whether your discriminated against or not than a commission that’s hand picked by borough council”
Probst also says the ordinance lacks any kind of penalty if discrimination occurs.
The ordinance passed with a 4-to-3 vote. The next step is forming that human relations commission. one other note – Stroudsburg leaders say the borough has never received a discriminaton- based complaint.