Gender Identity Protections Pass in Bloomington
City Council Votes Unanimously to Ban Gender Identity Discrimination
Bloomington has become the second Indiana city to provide civil-rights protections based on gender identity. This change means that Bloomington city code will treat "gender identity" as a category protected against discrimination, just like race, religion, disability, sex and sexual orientation.
The Bloomington City Council vote was preceded by two years of broad community advocacy. Among the organizations involved in this grassroots effort were Indiana Equality, the Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance (INTRAA), Interfaith Coalition on Nondiscrimination (ICON), the Indiana University GLBT Student Support Services, Bloomington Beacon, bloomingOUT radio, Bloomington PFLAG, Indiana Stonewall Democrats, Bloomington United, and the Hoosier Rights Campaign.
"It's official! By a unanimous vote, the Bloomington City Council voted tonight to extend civil rights protections," exclaimed Carolyn Wiethoff, chair of Indiana Equality's Region 9 steering committee.
The April 19, 2006 vote by the Bloomington City Council provides for voluntary mediation to address complaints of gender-identity discrimination. The ordinance also allows the Bloomington Human Rights Commission (BHRC) to pursue gender-identity complaints selectively as sex-discrimination complaints, with the power to enforce compliance.
The ordinance includes a definition of "gender identity" proposed by the BHRC when it voted unanimously in September to recommend amending the city's human rights ordinance. The definition reads: "Gender identity means a person's actual or perceived gender-related attributes, self-image, appearance, expression, or behavior, whether or not such characteristics differ from those traditionally associated with the person's assigned sex at birth."
Founded in 2003, Indiana Equality is a coalition of organizations from around the state that focus on ensuring basic human rights for Indiana's LGBT citizens. Participating organizations include ICON, INTRAA, Indiana Action Network (IAN), Justice, Inc., Indiana PFLAG Alliance, Indianapolis Rainbow Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Social Workers - Indiana Chapter, Human Rights Campaign Indianapolis Steering Committee, and the Northeast Indiana AIDS Memorial, as well as regional steering committees in the Indianapolis, Bloomington, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Lafayette, and South Bend areas.