BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — Bethel city employees could soon be protected from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination under changes to the city’s municipal code.

The Bethel City Council has voted to draft language to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the city’s protected classes, according to KYUK-AM. If the changes take effect, anyone applying for a job with the city or a city employee could not be treated differently based on their perceived or actual orientation or identity.

Council member Chuck Herman suggested the changes, saying they could make Bethel a more attractive employer.

“We are signaling to our future employees and our current employees,” Herman said, “that we do not discriminate on that basis, and what we care about is results and hard work, and being a competent and caring employee.”

The Bethel City Administrator and City Attorney are drafting consistent language for the city’s municipal code, union agreement and employee handbook.

The changes are expected to be presented to the council in November.

Similar ordinances are under review in other parts of the state. The Anchorage Assembly is amending an ordinance that would outlaw discrimination against the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in the workplace as well as public facilities and in housing. In Juneau, an assemblyman is drafting an ordinance similar to Anchorage’s proposed changes.

In Bethel, the changes would only apply to city employees and would not extend to the private sector.


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