Friday, February 16, 2007

Freedom from Workplace Discrimination Act

S.A. State Rep files pro-gay bill in Texas House
from QSanAntonio

State Representative Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio) filed a bill in the Texas Legislature on January 26 that would prohibit a wide range of discriminatory practices based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

House Bill 900, the "Freedom from Workplace Discrimination Act," would ban discrimination based on one's actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. If passed, the law would provide for equal treatment in a variety of areas related to employment and the ability to live in a home or neighborhood of one's choice. The bill also provides a great opportunity to educate the public about the discriminatory environment and actions often faced by the GLBT community.

Villarreal, who represents District 123, has long been considered a friend to San Antonio’s GLBT community. The Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio honored him last September with an award for Political Advocacy. "Rep. Villarreal hopes he can count on the support of the community for this legislation," says Andrew Dupuy who serves on Villarreal’s staff as the liaison for GLBT bills. "This bill will require extensive support from citizens and community organizations to navigate the arduous legislative process. Action alerts and legislative updates sent to your members, and your organization's and members' letters, testimony, and phone calls -- all will make the difference in moving this bill through the legislative process."

Write a letter of thanks for Representative Villarreal at:

Capitol Office
Room CAP GN.10
P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768

Or, call him with your thanks: (512) 463-0532

Or, fax the letter to: (512) 463-7675

Or send him an email by using the email option on the House of Representatives website:

No matter how you say it, say thanks!

On a personal note:

I had a really hard time at my last job because of general stupidity regarding gender and sexual orientation issues. But the hard time I had was nothing compared to the experiences of others. It's about time queers in Texas could receive some comfort in their places of work. Far too many of us are working class (especially in Texas) and the idea of leaving a job, despite abuse, is an impossibility. Bills like this one will encourage queers to use their voice, knowing they have full support of the laws.

I remember sitting in front of the executive director and the operations manager and telling them that I felt that I couldn't say anything when a co-worker used anti-gay language in front of me (even if I did indeed tell her something) and the executive director stated that their employee manual offered protections based on sexual orientation. When I asked her to show me because I had reviewed the manual previously, she pointed out all the other protections and looked at sexual harassment then said "oh, well, we mean to offer it, even if it's not listed, we have good intentions here and don't mean to show disrespect." When I told her that Texas doesn't have such a protection, she turned that information to make it the answer I did not want - that she no longer had to deal with this and it was probably just a one-on-one situation - not an issue which would benefit all the staff in having the discussion. Nice.

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