LGBT advocates call on Commissioners Court to protect transgender Dallas County employees

Posted on 05 Apr 2011 at 11:12am
Pam Curry, left, and Kelli Ann Busey

Three members of the LGBT community spoke today during the Dallas County Commissioners Court’s regular meeting, calling on the court to add transgender employees to the county’s nondiscrimination policy.

Kelli Ann Busey, who is transgender, commended the court for adding sexual orientation to the policy covering the county’s 7,000 employees a few weeks ago.

“But transgender people are not the same as gay people,” Busey said. “We need to be protected differently.”

Busey said many transgender people are homeless after transitioning.

“Without workplace protections, we cannot live up to our potential,” she said.

Dave Guy-Gainer spoke on behalf of Equality Texas. He told the commissioners about a poll conducted by Glengariff Group that sampled registered voters in Texas on 12 rights as they pertain to the LGBT community.

“According to the poll, 70 percent of all Texas voters support prohibiting employment and housing discrimination for transgender citizens,” he said.

Gainer said that over the past three election cycles, Dallas County has voted for progressive government. He called Dallas County a leader for other jurisdictions across the area as well as nationally.

Pam Curry, who is transgender, told the court she is a former part-time Dallas County employee.

“I was bothered when the non-discrimination policy was passed and I was not included,” Curry told the Commissioners Court.

Curry explained to the court the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity.

“I urge the court to move quickly to correct the oversight,” she said.

Rafael McDonnell of Resource Center Dallas spoke at the Commissioners Court meeting last week. He is barred from speaking again for a month but promised to keep the issue before the court by lining up speakers for each meeting.

McDonnell also forwarded to Dallas Voice a copy of an email he received from County Judge Clay Jenkins.

“I believe in equality for all,” Jenkins wrote to McDonnell. “The new non-discrimination language was formulated by the county’s Human Resources department at my request and was intended to prohibit discrimination against anyone. Our HR director informs me that her interpretation of sexual orientation includes gender identity and gender expression.  Therefore, under our current policy, discrimination will not be tolerated.

“Many people share your concern that the policy needs to be changed to specifically state that gender identity and expression are included. I have requested an opinion from the District Attorney’s office about adding identity language to the County Code and its overall impact; the first step in a proposed change,” Jenkins wrote.

“The vote that passed last month is a positive step, which I consider a victory, and I am asking for your faith and patience as the process moves forward.”

On Monday, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Commissioners Court to add transgender protections, according to President Omar Narvaez. A copy of the resolution is after the jump.

For more information about contacting commissioners directly, go here.

WHEREAS, On September 25, 2007, the Dallas County Commissioners Court adopted a Strategic Plan to serve as a framework and guide for the County in its decision-making over the next ten years; and

WHEREAS, Included in the Strategic Plan is Vision 5: “Dallas County is the destination of choice for residents and business,” including strategies to drive economic development and improve quality of life; and

WHEREAS, Comprehensive nondiscrimination policies, including sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, decrease costs for employers, decrease regrettable loss, raise productivity, and increase recruiting efficiency; and

WHEREAS, Thirteen Fortune 1000 companies in Texas have nondiscrimination policies in place, inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression; and

WHEREAS, On March 22, 2011, the Dallas Commissioners Court voted unanimously to add sexual orientation to the County’s nondiscrimination policy, with County Judge Clay Jenkins calling the vote “long overdue”; and

WHEREAS, Judge Jenkins recognized the benefit of such nondiscrimination policies, stating that the county-owned Parkland hospital is at a “huge competitive disadvantage” without such policies, and expressing a desire for Dallas County “to be competitive with the rest of the marketplace”; and

WHEREAS, A comprehensive nondiscrimination policy, including gender identity/expression, will serve to further the goals of economic development, marketplace competition, and improved quality of life; now, therefore,

Be It Resolved by the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and the Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats:

That we, the Leadership and Members of the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and the Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats, support comprehensive nondiscrimination policies including both sexual orientation and gender identity/expression; and

Urge the County Judge and County Commissioners to add gender identity/expression to the County’s nondiscrimination policy.

Be It Further Resolved, That copies of this Resolution be sent to the Dallas County Judge and Dallas County Commissioners.

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