This morning Sen. Judy Schwank (D-11th) and Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-126th) spoke at Kutztown University’s 18th Annual Community Forum about SB 163 and HB 1140, which would require public employees and licensed medical professionals to receive bias training once every two years.
Public and private school teachers would also be required to receive training as well as faculty members at trade schools and institutions of higher learning. The two bills are companion pieces of legislation Schwank and Rozzi are working together to advance in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Kutztown University’s Social Work Department worked closely with the legislators on developing the bills.
The legislation defines social bias as, “A belief or set of associations about an individual or a group of individuals based upon physical characteristics, race, ethnicity, gender, age, religious creed or sexual orientation which can result in the inaccurate attribution of particular qualities to the individual or group of individuals.”
“This legislation would help public servants and medical professionals better understand how their actions, regardless of intention, might be perceived by individuals of a different sexual orientation, race or religious background,” Schwank said. “The training and support provided by these bills are non-controversial and necessary to help make Pennsylvania a welcoming place for everyone. Additionally, many private sector employees receive similar training to improve customer service and workplace performance.”
“Sen. Schwank and I worked closely with stakeholders, including Kutztown University, to write this bill,” Rozzi said. “Together, we were able to formulate what we believe is incredibly impactful legislation that would increase cultural competence throughout Pennsylvania with minimal capital investment. I’m so grateful for the positive responses we received from students today, the very demographic who would benefit from this bill’s passage.”
SB 163 was referred to the Pennsylvania State Intergovernmental Committee in February of 2021 and is yet to receive a vote. Likewise, HB 1140 was referred to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives State Government Committee in April of 2021 and is yet to receive consideration.