Community forum for anti-discrimination bill

Johnstown, Cambria County, Pa. - Folks in Johnstown are putting together a special educational forum Monday night to help educate the community about an anti-discrimination bill.

 Bill 5 was introduced to Johnstown City Council earlier this year. 

It prohibits discrimination based on race, religion or gender. It also tackles sexual orientation. 

Johnstown Mayoral candidate jJohn DeBartola says it's time for City Council to vote yes for Bill 5. 

"These bills are essential to the future of this town. If Johnstown isn't a welcoming community, if we don't embrace our diversity, and our cultural inheritance of the entire population how can we move forward together?"

Democratic City Council candidate Joe Taranto says Bill 5 is an anti-discrimination bill that expands protections to people who identify as LGBTQIA.

"People are confused and they mix in other issues on what this is. This is about allowing people to get a job and housing that will bill five is," said Taranto. "They'll mix in things like bathrooms this has nothing to do with it we have these laws in the books we're just adding in sexual preference."

DeBartola believes everyone has the right to housing and employment without being judged. This forum will have a panel to address these issues.

"We want to have religious leaders, education leaders, people who are knowledgeable to explain the real truth tying non-discrimination and housing and employment," explained DeBartola. "We want people to really know what these bills are about."

There are currently no statewide or local laws that include these types of protections that Bill 5 proposes. 

"It's about educating our community that this community is here, we are not in the back room hiding any more, we are out, we are vocal and we are organized," DeBartola said.

The forum to discuss Bill 5 is free to anyone that wants to attend. 

It will be held at the Bull Dog Arena in Downtown Johnstown at 5pm. City council members have been invited to the forum as well. 


Panel Speakers: 

Beth Seymour, PhD Cultural Anthropology. She is an Instructor of Anthropology, Communications, History and Omen's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State Altoona.

Reverend Tedd Cogar currently is an Assistant Director for Student Conduct and LGBTQIA Support at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, he serves as Pastor at Luther Chapel Lutheran Church in Coral, Pennsylvania and for the Lutheran Campus Ministry at IUP. He has been assisting the congregation of Zion, Indiana as part of a team approach since June, 2016.

Dr. Steven Tuell earned his PhD. in Hebrew Bible at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia. He taught at Erskine College, S.C. (1989-1992) and Randolph-Macon College, Va. (1992-2005), receiving numerous awards for teaching excellence.

Catherine Anne McCloskey-Ross completed her doctorate in Comparative Political Economy at St. Mary's College in Derry City, Northern Ireland. She worked as an organizer for the United Automobile Worker's union McCloskey-Ross is currently pursuing degree in Theology and Social Change with an eye toward being ordained a minister in the Society of Friends (the Quakers) at Christmas.

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