What Is a Bias Incident?

Bias incidents refer to conduct, speech, images or expression that demonstrate conscious or unconscious bias which targets individuals or groups based on but not limited to their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, socioeconomic status or other social identities.

Bias is a human condition and often reflects unconscious prejudices. We are all shaped by our distinct experiences, and we perceive ourselves and others in relation to those experiences. As a fact of humanity, bias cannot be eradicated; nonetheless it must be engaged thoughtfully, honestly and respectfully. Bias is often unintentional and may not be perceived as aggressive or disrespectful by the responsible party. When bias is not conscientiously named and addressed, it can compound to create negative environments for those affected and/or can escalate into more overt acts of discrimination or criminal behaviors.

What is a Hate Crime?

To be a hate crime, an act of bias or discrimination must be criminal—not merely an expression of an intolerant opinion. According to Pennsylvania State Law, a hate crime is a criminal act committed because of a victim's real or perceived race, color, religion, national origin or ancestry. It is important to note that while all hate crimes are bias incidents, not all bias incidents are hate crimes.