EDITORIAL: Equality elusive for LGBT workers

Staff reports
  • Transgender Day of Visibility shed light on unique discrimination transgender people face regularly.
  • Fairness Act in Pa. would ensure employment and housing protections to gay and transgender individuals.
  • In NC and Georgia, proposed laws would exclude gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender citizens.

Kudos to those who attended the Transgender Day of Visibility held this past Thursday in the state Capitol. The event was aimed at bringing awareness to the need for passage of the Fairness Act.

Cecilia Watkins, of Harrisburg, holds a equality sign Thursday, March 31, 2016, during a rally at the state Capitol to fight for the passage of the Fairness Act which would offer protections for LGBT individuals with regards to employment and housing. Amanda J. Cain photo

The York Dispatch has editorialized for the passage of this legislation, which would offer legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens regarding employment and housing.

Business leaders and residents have voiced their support for legislation that would ensure employment and housing protections to gay and transgender individuals.

We continue to stand with the York Economic Alliance, Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York City, and the LGBT Equality Caucus to urge lawmakers to pass The Pennsylvania Fairness Act (HB 1510/SB 974) to ensure that all citizens, regardless of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, sex, national origin, disability, and — with passage of the Fairness Act — sexual orientation and gender identity, can participate in the state’s economy.

In business reporter David Weissman’s story in today’s Dispatch about York’s transgender community facing workplace discrimination, we come to understand that the issue of total equality was not addressed with the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage equality in June 2015.

York's transgender community facing workplace discrimination

Health reporter Katherine Ranzenberger's story about Family First adding three questions about sexual orientation, gender identity and sex at birth to its initial patient interviews shows the organization's sensitivity to inclusion in health care.

Family First Health adding gender identity questions

To those employers who use this tactic to marginalize LGBT workers, understand that it could be detrimental to your business — and could greatly affect your profits. Consumers vote with their hearts — and moral compasses — and the support for our LGBT neighbors continues to grow, as it should.

In North Carolina and Georgia, recent legislation was introduced with the express intention of marginalizing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens.

The validity of a North Carolina law aimed at restricting restroom use by transgender people could be determined any day in Virginia, where a school board has ordered a teenager to stay out of the boys' room.

Among other things, the law directs public schools, public universities and government agencies to designate bathrooms and locker rooms for use by people based solely on their biological sex, and says transgender people can only use bathrooms matching their gender identity if they've had their birth certificates changed, which in North Carolina usually requires sexual reassignment surgery.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond could rule any day now in the case of Gavin Grimm, who was born female but identifies as male. Grimm says he has to take a "walk of shame" to use a restroom at Gloucester High School.

In Georgia, under pressure from the entertainment industry and major corporations, Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday vetoed a “religious liberty” bill that would have made it legal to deny services to gay people.

That decision stands in contrast to the situation in North Carolina, where, according to a report by Tribune News Service, Gov. Pat McCrory has vowed to defend his state’s law that prohibits the aforementioned legal protections — even in the face of the legal opposition it faces from civil rights advocates.

Come on, North Carolina, Georgia — and all those seeking to discriminate based on sexuality and sexual identity — there has to be a more inclusive way to make issues such as workplace fairness and using public restrooms less daunting and more inclusive.

That is, unless your agenda is exclusion. And just as those consumers vote with their feet, so does the electorate. If you support such bigoted legislation, you are undoubtedly voting to marginalize members of your constituency — a counterintuitive approach to representation.