Seattle mayor signs order to protect transgender rights

A giant marriage equality flag, with an "equal" symbol inside an outline of Washington state, flutters atop the Space Needle Sunday, June 30, 2013, in Seattle.

A giant marriage equality flag, with an "equal" symbol inside an outline of Washington state, flutters atop the Space Needle Sunday, June 30, 2013, in Seattle. Associated Press

Seattle‘s mayor has signed an executive order aimed at making public spaces safer for transgender and gender-diverse people.

Mayor Ed Murray said in a news release Thursday that front-line city staff, from those at the Seattle Public Library to Parks and Recreation, will be trained in the ordinances and laws that protect the rights of transgender people and protect them from harassment and violence.

“City facilities must be safe and welcoming places for all residents, including transgender and gender-diverse people,” Murray said. “Front-line City staff will have the training they need to understand our ordinances and state laws that protect the rights of transgender people and protect them from harassment and violence. The law requires that we provide access to the facilities that correspond to a person’s gender identity, and everyone deserves to be treated with respect.”

The Seattle Office of Civil Rights will work with the Pride Foundation and other groups to develop guidelines and training.

“As a transgender man, I know that so few people personally know a transgender person, and it can be hard to understand what it means to be transgender—even for those trying to make sense of this issue calmly and reasonably,” said Seth Kirby, Vice Chair of the Pride Foundation and Executive Director of Oasis Youth Center. “We are part of your workplaces, classrooms, neighborhoods, families, churches, and communities—and we need to be able to use the restroom, just like everyone else. Pride Foundation looks forward to working to ensure no one is excluded or unfairly discriminated against simply because of who they are, especially transgender people.”

The move follows an initiative to repeal a state rule allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

The order also instructs staff to continue notifying businesses about the city ordinance designating public single-stall restrooms as all-gender.

“SDHR is fully committed to and inspired by the Mayor’s commitment to equity and inclusion for our City employees,” said Susan Coskey, director of the Seattle Department of Human Resources. “The City as an employer must model the behaviors, policies and practices that we expect from other employers in the region. Developing and implementing the inclusive policies described in the Executive Order is not only the right thing to do for our transgender and gender-diverse employees, it is also the right thing to do for all City employees.”

“The Mayor’s Executive Order affirms our City’s commitment to upholding the rights and dignity of all people,” said Patricia Lally, Director of the Office for Civil Rights. “My staff and I are eager to develop training for City staff on the rights of transgender and gender-diverse people that can serve as a model for how to create an inclusive environment.”

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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