The Atlanta metro area is leading the way in passing expanded non-discrimination protections for LGBT Georgians.
The northside Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs is the latest municipality to update its municipal hiring practices to protect transgender Georgians from discrimination in employment with the city. Sandy Springs had previously included only sexual orientation among the list of prohibited forms of hiring discrimination.
The new policy will apply to all city business, including outside contracts and the use of city facilities like parks and recreational facilities. Lawmakers initially proposed the updates in March, mere days before Governor Nathan Deal vetoed the anti-LGBT House Bill 757, which would have prohibited cities from enacting these kinds of local LGBT protections.
The policy change’s lead sponsor, City Council member Andy Bauman, told Project Q Atlanta in April that HB 757 actually was his motivation.
“I was reacting to the religious liberty bill and then wanted to make note of what we do here in Sandy Springs. What I want to focus on is continuing a really good atmosphere in Sandy Springs.”
In other municipalities in Georgia and states across the country attempts to update such policies have often been heated, contested affairs. But the Sandy Springs city council passed these updates without debate, via a voice vote only.
This could herald a sea change in the effort to enact comprehensive non-discrimination protections statewide, and is emblematic of the next local frontier in the fight—shoring up protections for transgender Georgians where they are lacking. While 60 municipalities in Georgia include some kind of non-discrimination protections for gay Georgians, only a dozen offer the same protections for gender identity.
This is especially significant as Georgia’s leaders balk at federal guidelines aimed at protecting transgender students. In May the Obama Administration re-issued longstanding federal guidelines aimed at protecting transgender students under Title IX, which prohibits gender discrimination at schools receiving federal education funding.
Georgia and 9 other states then joined a lawsuit against those guidelines, a move that is especially distressing in a state that is considered a leader in the South when it comes to making positive moves on LGBT rights.
Georgia’s political leaders should be spending more time following the lead of Sandy Springs, and less time fighting regulations aimed at protecting children from discrimination.SHARE THIS STORY