Article IV paragraph B allows for businesses to "evaluate" and "discriminate" gender identity
Houston, Texas - May 08, 2014 - Currently the city of Houston, Texas is hearing testimony and engaging in a fight for equal rights that includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression. On the face of it, this is legislation that Transgender Education Network of Texas as a statewide organization can get behind and support in order to provide a state of equity for Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Texans. However, on closer inspection, TENT and other organizations around the state have discovered that the proposed ordinance creates a loophole that allows businesses to discriminate against the very community we are promised to advocate on behalf on.
An Amendment to Article IV (b) proposed by Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Gonzalez Council Member, District H dated 05/07/2014 provides for the following language highlighted to the right (You can read more of the proposed amendments in this Houston Chronicle article).
"..It shall be a defense to prosecution for discrimination on the basis of gender identity under this article, however, if, under all the facts and circumstances, the defendant reasonably believed that the person discriminated against was seeking access to the facility for an unlawful purpose. Nothing in section shall require construction of a new bathroom shower room, or similar facility."
At concern here is the ability to presume unlawful purpose without the merit of evidence. Considering overwhelming misunderstanding of the legality of gender identity and bathroom use, it is the understanding of the staff and board of directors of Transgender Education Network of Texas that this therefore allows a place of business to discriminate against an individuals self-affirmed identity on the basis of personal preconceptions. For us, this represents discriminatory language.
As San Antonio leader and Transgender Education Network of Texas former board member, Lauryn Farris put it "The current language is in my opinion egregious, it invites challenges and is certainly no better, and perhaps less than, the Fort Worth language. Again, in my opinion, the current language adds apparent transgender supportive language to the public policy so that the appearance of protection is there but it is a small step because anyone who chooses not to follow it is welcome to go their own way."
TENT will not support HERO as it stands
Therefore, the Board of Directors and staff of Transgender Education Network of Texas have decided that as this ordinance exists in its current form, we cannot support the proposed policy. The only "way forward" in our minds is to remove or purge any language calling for a defensible position based on another's preconceptions.
We welcome all individuals to read over the Gonzales amendment and language of the Houston Equal Rights Amendment for themselves and make a decision based on their conscience and weighing on the facts.
About Transgender Education Network of Texas
Transgender Education Network of Texas is a 501c3 educational organization that provides workshops, trainings, and advisory help to business, individuals, and all who will listen with an open heart in regard to a Texas that embodies true gender equity for all.
Please login or register to add comments