Kansas Equality Coalition and the Lawrence’s Human Rights Ordinance

Dear loving friends of mine:

Myself and some friends of mine in the Bachelor of Social Welfare program at KU, Matthew Blankers, Anna Bailey, and Lauren Tullis are working with the Kansas Equality Coalition (KEC) to gather support for a proposed revision to Chapter X, the Human Rights Ordinance for Lawrence’s City Code, which would add gender identity and expression as a protected category. Please read the attached letter from KEC and consider showing your support for this revision. I, myself, am unable to attend this event because of my required social work reasons, so I completely understand if you have prior commitments. However, it would really mean a lot to me, personally, to have your support for this revision. Additionally, please feel free to forward this message to anyone who you think might be interested.

The situation:

As you may know, the Lawrence chapter of the Kansas Equality Coalition has been working toward amending the Lawrence Human Rights Ordinance to protect transgendered persons from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. We made a formal request to the City Commission in February 2009 The City Commissioners sent our request to the Human Relations Commission for their consideration and the HRC officially took up our request at their May meeting. The HRC held a public forum in August to gather information and at that time the members of the HRC seemed inclined to support our request. At the November HRC meeting, however, some members of the public expressed concerns that if anti-discrimination protections were extended to transsexual and transgendered people, children would be at risk to sexual predators in public bathrooms and the city would see an onslaught of litigation. Both claims are false, and we can prove it. Immediately thereafter the HRC voted 6 to 3 against an amendment. KEC has gathered documentary evidence to the effect that protecting transgendered persons from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations will not endanger our children nor cause significant expense to the city. At the upcoming February 18th meeting of the HRC we intend to ask the HRC to reconsider their vote.

Our request:

We are hoping for a good turnout of supporters at the February meeting, but since it’s at 11:00 am there are many supporters who will be unable to come. Thus, we are soliciting letters of support for an amendment to the Human Rights Ordinance to protect people from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression, especially from community leaders and small business owners. Please address such a letter to the Human Relations Commission and send it to Maggie Childs (maggie.childs@gmail.com). We will deliver them to the Human Relations Commissioners at that meeting.

Thank you very much.

Megh Chakrabarti

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