About the proposal
• The Nov. 18 vote to recommend not making a change to the existing anti-discrimination policy was 6-3.
• During Thursday’s meeting, Commissioners Scott Criqui proposed and Laura Diaz Moore seconded a motion to reconsider the November vote. That motion was defeated 4-3. Criqui, Diaz Moore and Lori Tapahonso voted for the motion, while Jason Barnhill, James Dunn, Kevin Johnson and Kirsten Krug voted against.
• The commission then voted 4-3 to approve the Nov. 18 proposal. Barnhill, Dunn, Johnson and Krug voted for approval.
• Prior to Thursday’s meeting, Commissioners Ernesto Hodison and Sue Leonard resigned, according to Toni Wheeler, city legal director.
After hearing nearly two hours of public comment Thursday, the city’s Human Relations Commission voted against adding gender identity to the city’s anti-discrimination policy.
The City Commission will consider the recommendation at a future meeting.
Thursday’s decision came after nearly a year of debate.
About 100 people attended and more than 40 people spoke, including members of the transgender community and representatives from area churches.
Proponents of a change to the current policy cited instances in Lawrence during which transgender people have faced discrimination in housing and employment.
Opponents countered with arguments that adding protections for gender identity was not necessary and opened the city and area businesses to lawsuits. Several people also expressed concern that a change to the policy could endanger women and children by allowing potential sexual predators — dressing as women — to use female restrooms.
Lori Tapahonso, chairman of the commission, said she was pleased with the high turnout.
“It shows that we have a very healthy community who is willing to engage in civil dialogue,” she said. “Regardless of what side of the issue you were on, we had people who were coming to the table offering their opinions.”
Last May, city commissioners asked the Human Relations Commission for a recommendation on the anti-discrimination policy after the Kansas Equality Coalition proposed including gender identity in the policy.