The director of the city of Dallas’ Fair Housing Office confirmed today that the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance doesn’t apply to Dallas Area Rapid Transit, because DART is considered a political subdivision of the state of Texas. The Fair Housing Office investigates complaints under the ordinance, which includes discrimination based on gender identity but exempts the state and federal governments and their political subdivisions. Since my initial story about the transgender DART employee three weeks ago, several poeple have asked whether she could pursue a complaint under the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. The answer, according to the Fair Housing Office, is no, and this is one of the limitations of having a city ordinance instead of a state or federal law banning anti-LGBT discrimination. Indeed, there are questions as to whether the ordinance even applies to the city of Dallas itself. Ken Upton, senior staff attorney for Lambda Legal in Dallas, has told me that according to his interpretation of the ordinance, the city of Dallas is exempt because it’s a political subdivision of the state. Others disagree, and it’s worth noting that in the case of the only known transgender city employee, Police Officer Deborah Grabowski, the city was fully supportive.
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