Sarasota – The City of Sarasota voted unanimously to change the city’s anti-discrimination law to include rights and protections for the transgender community.
Ken Shelin, Equality Florida Board Chair, and Gina Duncan, Transgender Inclusion Director for Equality Florida, presented to the Sarasota City Commission Sept. 2 a proposal to amend the anti-discrimination law to include gender identity and gender expression. Shelin, who is also a former Sarasota City Commissioner and Vice Mayor, is leading the initiative.
“It was a very positive meeting, and we were somewhat surprised that they were willing to proceed that quickly,” Duncan said. “But I think the overall beliefs and ideology of the Sarasota City Commission seems to be just that — that they do want to have an open, welcoming and diverse community that appreciates all people and protects all people under the human rights ordinance.”
City Commissioner Suzanne Atwell made the motion to vote to move forward with working on the draft.
The law already has protections for sexual orientation, which were added in 2000.
Duncan presented the City Commission with a copy of Orlando’s amendment to include transgender protections in the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, which passed Aug. 11 with a unanimous vote.
The city attorney will now draft an amendment that will then be presented to the City Commission for a first and second reading. These dates have not been set as of press time.
“It’s a really good sign that they passed the initial motion, unanimously, to have it written with very little discussion in the negative,” Duncan said. “What this means for the transgender community is, similarly to Orlando, that all people will have the same rights and protections that everyone else has and cannot be discriminated against simply because they are being their authentic selves.”
From our media partner Watermark