Posted by: outandequal | April 26, 2011

Dallas County votes to provide protections for transgender employees

The Dallas County Commissioners voted today to extend workplace protections for transgender people to the county’s existing non-discrimination policies. Five weeks ago, the Commissioners voted to add sexual orientation to the policies, but failed to include gender identity. Local activists mounted a campaign to raise their awareness of the need for gender identity protections, which led to today’s vote. You can read more details in the Dallas Voice.

Members of the Out & Equal Regional Affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth were part of the advocacy effort and Out & Equal congratulates them and all of the local advocates for a job well done, ensuring that all members of our community are protected from discrimination.

In the weeks leading up to the vote, Out & Equal’s Executive Director, Selisse Berry, wrote this letter to each of the Dallas County Commissioners:

Selisse Berry

Selisse Berry, Founding Executive Director

To the members of the Dallas County Commissioners Court:

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates thanks you for your decision to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation for county workers.  As a former resident of Dallas, I’m personally gratified to see the important steps you have taken. Now, we strongly urge you to complete the important work you began with this effort by including gender identity protections as well, so that you will fully protect all members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community who work hard for your county.

Our organization, Out & Equal, is the nation’s premier nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving workplaces where full equality extends to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Through our many years of work with the business community, we know the value of providing a safe and equal workplace for all employees. Dallas County will benefit when its workers are sure that they will be judged on their workplace performance, and on that basis alone, rather than on their sexual orientation or gender identity.  In doing so, you’ll be joining the rapidly growing ranks of Fortune 500 companies, along with cities such as Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Houston and El Paso, who share the same values.

In addition to supporting basic fairness on the job, there are cost effective reasons to protect employees from discrimination. As you know, on the job harassment leads to lost productivity and takes employees’ focus away from the important tasks at hand, and when experienced employees lost their jobs due to discrimination, the county faces additional expenses to replace and retrain new workers.  Banning discrimination makes good sense and specifically enumerating the need for gender identity protections ensures that your original intention of protecting all members of the community is honored. That’s why such iconic DFW-based companies as AT&T, American Airlines, Brinker, Kimberly-Clark, J.C. Penney, Southwest Airlines, Sabre and Texas Instruments have put these policies in place for their employees.

Finally, in October of this year, over 2,500 business leaders will be gathering in Dallas for our annual Out & Equal Workplace Summit. We selected Dallas for our conference in part because of its combination of a strong LGBT community and its positive corporate environment.  The Summit brings together executives, human resources and diversity professionals, and openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees  from the nation’s largest corporations to strategize, network and engage new ways to bring full equality to the workplace for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.  When they arrive, we hope they’ll see Dallas County as a model for fairness, with fully inclusive protections that include both gender identity and sexual orientation.

Selisse Berry
Founding Executive Director

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