McDonnell seeks changes with Collin County jail after gay deputy harassed, fired
After reading about Derek Boyd, the gay former Collin County corrections officer who lost his job after publicly accusing two nurses working at the jail of harassing him, Rafael McDonnell, communications and advocacy manager for Resource Center, sent an inquiry to the nurses’ staffing agency’s leadership.
Southwest Correctional Medical Group is a unit of the California-based Correctional Medical Group, which according to its website, provides medical, mental and behavioral health care services to county jails.
They currently staff six jails in Arkansas, New Mexico and Texas. Along with Collin County, Southwest Correctional provides medical and mental health staff to Wichita County, two hours northwest of Fort Worth.
Given their contract with Collin County, McDonnell felt obliged to reach out.
“I reached out to [their regional leadership] to see where things stand and offering to provide my services,” he said.
In an e-mail dated Aug. 18, McDonnell introduced himself and asked some pointed questions: Does the agency have an LGBT nondiscrimination policy? Do employees undergo cultural competency training inclusive of the LGBT community?
Most importantly, he pointed out, the nurses’ conduct in Boyd’s case could fly in the face of the Texas Administrative Code regarding nursing training.
“Are SWCMG employees trained on [this code] that prohibits discrimination by all nurses licensed by the state of Texas nursing services based on ‘age, disability, economic status, gender, national origin, race, religion, health problems, or sexual orientation of the client served?’” McDonnell asked in his e-mail.
Nurses, like other healthcare workers, are held to this standard professionally and legally, McDonnell noted.
“I raise this question because if the allegations of the fired jailer are correct, then this would cause questions about how SWCMG employees treat patients,” McDonnell wrote in his e-mail.
He offered his services and requested a meeting the following week. After all, crafting inclusive nondiscrimination policies for governments and corporations is part of his job.
But after waiting a week, he hadn’t heard a thing.
“I never heard back and was concerned,” McDonnell said. So he reached out to the office of state Rep. Rafael Anchia, a Dallas Democrat who represents the district in which Resource Center is located and who is a staunch LGBT ally in the statehouse.
A few days later, McDonnell got a call from the company’s CEO. He then received an email from the company’s general counsel, Ben Rice, outlining the company’s practices. They do indeed have a LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policy, Rice noted in the email, which was shared with Dallas Voice. They are also trained on state nursing standards.
In fact, Rice even apologized for the delay.
But McDonnell noticed odd language.
The policy protects employees from retaliation based on “gender orientation or identity.”
But, McDonnell noted, “they said they are in the process of drafting new language.” He said he’s seen a sample, and it looks “accurate.”
While the initial correspondence took time, McDonnell said he is pleased to see Southwest Correctional Services is working on the policy.
“I was concerned at first because they were not prompt. But they have improved,” McDonnell said. “We want to continue the dialogue with Southwest Correctional Services, given their contract with Collin County. We want to make sure they are working within a framework of equity.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2016.