A concerned SEPTA rider amended a new anti-discrimination sign. Courtesy: Philebrity
(Updated Dec. 30 with comments from SEPTA's Fran Kelly.)
The intrepid folks at Philebrity recently posted a reader's photo of a SEPTA sign that was found to lack the word "gender" in a list of classes protected against discrimination.
But SEPTA officials said the language on the sign is federally mandated and does not mean that the agency is indifferent to gender discrimination or would discriminate on the basis of gender.
"We’re guided by the federal government on this. We’re given the verbiage that we put on the sign. That comes right from the FTA [Federal Transit Administration]," said Fran Kelly, SEPTA's assistant general manager for public and government affairs.
"Just because it doesn't say it doesn’t mean we do it," Kelly said.
Kelly said the sign hangs in all SEPTA vehicles and states SEPTA's anti-discrimination policy under Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act, which specifically mandates that no person may be discriminated against on the basis of "race, color, or national origin."
Title 6 is required to be posted in public transit systems.
Title 9, which prohibits discrimination by gender, is not required to be posted, explained Joe Connelly, a government affairs employee at SEPTA.
On this particular subway car, one rider took it upon him or herself to add the word gender.
But Kelly said the absence of the word gender does not mean that SEPTA is indifferent to gender discrimination.
"Discrimination will not be tolerated at all," Kelly said.
Riders who take issue with the sign should contact their elected officials in Congress, he said.
SEPTA has been accused of insensitivity to gender in the past.
In 2009, Philly RAGE (Riders Against Gender Exclusion) began campaigning against the SEPTA policy of stamping transpass cards with the bearer's gender, to prevent fraud.
SEPTA ceased the gender stamp practice in July 2013.