MAKING STRIDES | Tom Anable, left, pictured here with Todd Camp, says that the lack of controversy surrounding the TCC board’s unanimous vote on adding sexual orientation to its employee nondiscrimination policy shows how far the Fort Worth area has come since the Rainbow Lounge raid.

Anable speaks at board meeting on adding transgender protections, says suggestion was well received

TAMMYE NASH  |  Senior Editor

FORT WORTH —  The board of Tarrant County College recently changed the school’s employee nondiscrimination policy to add protections based on sexual orientation and is considering another change to include protections based on gender identity and gender expression.

Tom Anable, president of Fairness Fort Worth, said he spoke to the TCC board about the importance of including protections based on gender identity and expression and was well received.

Anable said the impetus for the policy change began, in effect, last year when two TCC students started a gay-straight alliance on campus. This year’s LGBTQA Awareness Week at TCC last month grew out of that, Anable said, and the increased awareness of LGBT issues on campus prompted one faculty member to question whether the school’s nondiscrimination policy included protections based on sexual orientation.

Urged on by those questions, board members began a discussion about expanding the employee nondiscrimination policy that resulted in the March 9 vote.

Anable said that the big story here — as with the Fort Worth Independent School District’s recent vote to amend its anti-bullying policy for employees to include sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression — is that “there was no story. The change passed on a unanimous vote as part of the consent agenda.

There wasn’t anyone who showed up to try and stop it. It wasn’t even controversial to them.”

Anable said it is also important to note that the change started within the faculty and the board, not because activists broached the subject first. He also said he believes the board’s failure so far to include protections based on gender identity and expression stem from a lack of understanding gender issues rather than a deliberate refusal to include them.

Anable said he heard about the then upcoming policy change vote when he participated in a panel discussion during LGBTQA Awareness Week in February, and asked for the chance to address the board regarding adding transgender protections.

“They said of course I could come speak, that they would love to have more information,” Anable said.

“I gave my presentation and it was a very positive experience. The trustees all seemed very receptive and very supportive and they want to continue the dialog. I think they will add protections based on gender identity and expression; I think they will do it sooner rather than later, and I think they will do it without much controversy,” he said.

Anable said Fairness Fort Worth also hopes to work with TCC to make sure the school complies completely with the U.S. Department of Education’s recent guidelines for anti-bullying efforts.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 25, 2011.