Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins confirmed today that he’s requested an opinion from the District Attorney’s Office about adding transgender protections to the county’s employment nondiscrimination policy.
Jenkins’ request for information from county attorneys follows the Commissioners Court’s vote last week to add sexual orientation, but not gender identity, to the policy covering the county’s 7,000 employees.
Jenkins and Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia, two newly elected Democrats who spearheaded the proposal to add sexual orientation to the policy, said they thought sexual orientation covered transgender employees, which experts say it does not.
Since then, Jenkins said he’s received about a dozen e-mails from people in the LGBT community — which he called a lot — asking him to revisit the issue.
“The reason that it’s not in there is not because we don’t support it,” Jenkins said of transgender protections. “I don’t want people to misinterpret that I wasn’t for one type of discrimination but somehow was for another type of discrimination. Nothing could be further from the truth than that.”
Jenkins said he’s asked the civil division of the DA’s office to assess the impact on county code of adding gender identity to the policy.
“It’s going to depend on getting three votes … and the first step is to look at what impact it would have,” Jenkins told Instant Tea. “I care about making sure that we have a welcome and open workplace for all, and discrimination against no one. I’m against any type of discrimination in the workplace. I’m for treating all people equally.”
Rafael McDonnell, of Resource Center Dallas, spoke during public comments of the Commissioners Court’s regular meeting Tuesday. McDonnell said he thanked commissioners for adding sexual orientation to the policy — which they did on a 4-0 vote with Commissioner Maurine Dickey absent — and asked them to go back and add gender identity.
McDonnell said Commissioners Court rules prohibit him from speaking again during public comments for a month, so he encouraged others in the community to sign up to speak in coming weeks. To sign up, call the clerk’s office at 214-653-7886. The Commissioners Court meets at 9 a.m. on Tuesdays in the County Administration Building, 411 Elm St. in Dallas.
McDonnell and others also encouraged people in the LGBT community to contact all five commissioners to thank them for adding sexual orientation and ask them to add gender identity. Here is their contact info, with confirmed email addresses:
County Judge Clay Jenkins – 214-653-7949
Dist. 1 Maurine Dickey – 214-653-7552
Dist. 2 Mike Cantrell – 214-653-6100
Dist. 3 John Wiley Price – 214-653-6671
Dist. 4 Dr. Elba Garcia – 214-653-6670