Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum on Wednesday became the 170th member of Congress to affirm that they do not discriminate in their own employment practices based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.

“We welcome Senator Santorum’s signature affirming the need for basic equality in his own hiring practices,” said Riki Wilchins, executive director of the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition.

“It puts him in good company with 169 other members of Congress who have signed this statement.”

The Senator’s signature came after a meeting last week with GenderYOUTH activist Adrian Shanker. Shanker, a student at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, successfully lobbied his school administration to add “gender identity and expression” to its non-discrimination policies last year.

The GenderYOUTH Network is a collaborative effort of over 200 student leaders on 45 campuses in two dozen states combating school violence caused by gender stereotypes through youth organizing, peer-to-peer outreach and community education.

“I was surprised, but pleased, by the Senator’s signature,” said Mr Shanker. “As a Pennsylvania voter committed to youth advocacy and equality, I hope that my other senator will do likewise.”

The Diversity Statement is a joint project initiated in 2003 by GenderPAC and the Human Rights Campaign that has received bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. It asks members of Congress to affirm that they do not discriminate in their own hiring based on individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.

Twenty-five Senators, 145 Representatives – 20 Republicans and 148 Democrats – have endorsed the statement.

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