'Blue sheet' uncovered: A copy of the DART resolution on transgender protections

DART spokesman Morgan Lyons just sent along a copy of the two-page resolution that was apparently approved by the DART board last night. Lyons also promises to call soon, but based on his e-mail, it looks like the board did in fact approve the proposed nondiscrimination policy minus the word “except.” In other words, board member Claude Williams’ interpretation was correct. I guess this is the “blue sheet” to which Board Chairman William Velasco was alluding. But as you can see after the jump, this version ain’t blue.

—  John Wright

Questions linger over DART board's vote Tuesday night on transgender protections

DART board member Ray Noah, left, and agency general counsel Hyattye Simmons look on during last night's meeting. Noah is the board member who inserted the one-word amendment that would have gutted the proposal. And Simmons has been accused of engineering the plan.
DART board member Ray Noah, left, and agency general counsel Hyattye Simmons look on Tuesday night. Noah is the board member who proposed a one-word amendment last week that would have gutted the transgender protections. And Simmons may have been a co-conspirator.

We have phone calls and e-mails in to DART spokesman Morgan Lyons seeking clarification and confirmation about what exactly the agency’s Board of Directors approved last night with regard to transgender protections.

There are two conflicting interpretations of what happened during the meeting. We’ll explain after the jump.

—  John Wright

DART board member says he was 'duped' by attorneys on nondiscrimination policy

A DART board member said Thursday evening that he was “duped” by the agency’s attorneys into approving a nondiscrimination policy that wouldn’t protect gay or transgender employees.

In an exclusive interview with Dallas Voice, DART board member Claude R. Willams Jr. said he didn’t learn until earlier in the day that neither gay nor transgender workers would be protected under the new policy.

The board’s goal was to add gender identity to the nondiscrimination policy, which has included sexual orientation since 1995. However, a one-word amendment approved by the DART board on Tuesday night would nullify protections for both gay and transgender employees.

Williams, who represents the city of Dallas on the DART board, blamed himself for not catching the amendment, which he said was recommended by the agency’s attorneys. But Williams also vowed to fix it. The DART board is scheduled to take a final vote on the new policy Tuesday, June 22.

“I feel duped and misled,” Williams said. “The new language does not embrace the thoughts and the philosophy we wanted embraced into the policy change. We depended on legal and our general counsel to come up with the wording that would embrace that philosophy, and obviously that wasn’t done.”

Williams was reluctant to point fingers at specific DART staff members, but the agency’s general counsel is Hyattye O. Simmons. Simmons is also one of the attorneys who drafted a motion opposing a transgender bus driver’s gender-marker change in family court last year.  The motion and other alleged discrimination against the transgender bus driver led to the proposal to add gender identity to the nondiscrimination policy.

“Now that I”m aware of it and now that other members who supported the policy change are aware, we’re going to have to go back and have language put in that embraces our philosophy, and it’s apparent that we might have to have an attorney we can trust who will put that in,” Williams said.

“It’s sad that now you’ve got to depend on outside attorneys to be brought in to the process,” he added. “Right now, everyone who voted for it is probably as shocked and disappointed as I am. I’ve lost a lot of confidence right now — and trust.”

To read my full story on the trans protections, go here.

—  John Wright