Chapter 57 Board votes in favor of transgender protections

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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Orlando – The City of Orlando’s Chapter 57 Review Board unanimously voted to recommend that the Orlando City Commission add gender identity and expression to its anti-discrimination ordinance.

Gina Duncan, transgender inclusion director for Equality Florida, has been at the forefront of the push for the changes to Chapter 57. If the City Commission approves the policy changes, it would protect transgender individuals from discrimination in housing, at the workplace, at financial institutions or when using public accommodations. Chapter 57 is the part of Orlando’s City Code that covers anti-discrimination and includes minority-owned business regulations, housing discrimination and the city’s domestic partner registry.

“It really has been a great experience, and it’s really great to see how far we’ve come for gender awareness and inclusiveness,” Duncan said.

The changes were originally introduced a couple years back by the Orlando Anti-Discrimination Alliance. June 19, Duncan went before the seven-member Chapter 57 Review Board, which consists of all non-elected officials who advocate for the citizens of Orlando in the areas of human and civil rights.

At the meeting, the City Attorney spoke to the Board about the proposal. Duncan, joined by civil rights attorney Mary Meeks and statewide director for Equality Florida Michael Farmer, then presented the proposal to the Board. Before voting, each board member was able to make comments on the proposed changes.

“The comments that were made by the advisory board were both heartfelt and compassionate in support for the measure,” Duncan said.

The first City Council public reading is scheduled July 28, followed by the second reading August 11 where the amendment will be voted on by the City Council. There will be a period of time where the City Commissioners will meet with representatives from the LGBT community to answer any questions or concerns.

Michael Slaymaker, founder of Orlando Anti-Discrimination Ordinance Committee, has asked LGBT community leaders and residents to email the mayor and city commissioners to show support for adding gender identity and expression to Chapter 57.

  • Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer – Buddy.Dyer@cityoforlando.net
  • District 1 Commissioner: Jim Gray – Jim.Gray@cityoforlando.net
  • District 2 Commissioner: Tony Ortiz – Tony.Ortiz@cityoforlando.net
  • District 3 Commissioner: Robert F. Stuart – Robert.Stuart@cityoforlando.net
  • District 4 Commissioner: Patty Sheehan – Patty.Sheehan@cityoforlando.net
  • District 5 Commissioner: Regina I. Hill – Regina.Hill@cityoforlando.net
  • District 6 Commissioner: Samuel B. Ings – Samuel.Ings@cityoforlando.net

“Over the years, the social climate of transgender understanding has changed,” Duncan said. “We’ve evolved from a time of knowing we could not get legislation passed, which included gender identity, to a time now where a measure that has gender identity and expression is approved unanimously. It strongly speaks to an increased education and understanding of the transgender community and an increasingly inclusive social environment.”

 

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