Late yesterday we spoke to openly gay District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons about the Commissioners Court’s approval of an amendment to Dallas County’s employment nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation but not gender identity/expression. Fitzsimmons said he was never asked to review the proposed amendment and was not aware that the Commissioners Court would be voting on it Tuesday. (Coincidentally, Fitzsimmons added transgender employees to the nondiscrimination policy for his department three years ago after Dallas Voice pointed out that it was missing. Fitzsimmons had added sexual orientation but not gender identity/expression to the policy after taking office in 2007.)
In response to a request under Texas open records law, Fitzsimmons provided an e-mail exchange between himself and County Judge Clay Jenkins from Tuesday afternoon. Jenkins had forwarded to Fitzsimmons an e-mail he received from Stonewall Democrats President Omar Narvaez, in which Narvaez warned of backlash from the LGBT community because transgender employees aren’t covered by the amendment.
Fitzsimmons responded to Jenkins by providing a copy of the nondiscrimination policy for his department, and by suggesting that the county judge ask the District Attorney’s Office to review the issue. We’ve posted the e-mail exchange between Fitzsimmons and Jenkins after the jump.
And again, our question is, why in hell didn’t this discussion take place three months ago?
From: Gary Fitzsimmons
Sent: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 6:39 PM
To: Clay Jenkins
Subject: RE: Non discrimination
I have attached my non-discrimination policy which includes the word “transgendered”. I do not use the words “gender identity and expression.” I believe that “transgendered” is the generally accepted term for use in non-discrimination policies.
I have had one transgendered deputy on my staff in the past. The question arose as to which gender specific dress code standard this individual would be required to abide by. We determined that the District Clerk’s non discrimination policy, as it applied to transgendered persons, required the supervisor to allow that deputy to choose which gender specific standard to meet.
This is an example of how a transgender non discrimination policy might impact a decision by a supervisor that would not otherwise be the case if the policy only included sexual orientation.
Because the inclusion of “transgendered” may impact management decisions in unforseen ways, I think the District Attorney should review the issue and provide the court and Dallas County H.R. with some guidance as to what exactly it means and what potential liability, if any, it presents to the county. I think it would be perfectly appropriate to inform those members of the community who believe the current policy is insufficient that a referral has been made for further study to ensure that management fully understands how to apply such a policy, if that is your decision.
From: Clay Jenkins
Sent: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 3:43 PM
To: Gary Fitzsimmons
Subject: Fw: Non discrimination
We changed dallas county policy to add“ sexual orientation“ to non discrimination policy. It passed unanimous this am. Hr says they interpret sexual orientation to include sexual identity for non discrimination purposes.
—– Original Message —–
From: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
To: Clay Jenkins
Sent: Tue Mar 22 14:38:31 2011
Subject: Non discrimination
First thank you for adding sexual orientation to the county’s non discrimination policy. It was long over due, and I really appreciate it.
However, I just want to advise you that the LGBT community may backlash because of the non inclusion of sexual identity and expression. It’s important for our transgendered brothers and sisters to be protected as well.
I hope that we can go back an include sexual identity & expression, soon. Too many times the trans community is left behind and no one ever goes back to get them.
Please feel free to contact me anytime on subjects regarding the LGBT community. I am here to help anytime.
Again thank you for such a progressive move. I know with you on the court things are moving forward in Dallas County.
Stonewall Democrats of Dallas