Last night, Howard County Councilmembers heard testimony on CB54-2011, an update to the County’s Human Rights Act which would prohibit housing, employment, credit, law enforcement, and public accommodations discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression for all residents. The bill was drafted in part by PFLAG Columbia-Howard County and Gender Rights Maryland in July and introduced in October. The bill is sponsored by four of the council’s members.
More than 70 people showed their support for the bill at the hearing by wearing purple clothing, and many PFLAG voices were heard, all of which received warm and heartfelt applause for the emotional testimony they courageously shared in support of basic rights for all families throughout the county.
While over a dozen Howard Country residents testified expressing their full support for these critical protections, arguments from three individuals – two of whom did not reside in Howard County - were also submitted for the record. These individuals expressed concerns about the legislation, yet failed to substantiate their claims when pressed by Council Members.
On the other hand, many local residents, including several PFLAG members, referenced report-after-report including NCTEand NGLTF’s groundbreaking report, Injustice at Every Turn Report, and GLSEN’s 2008 Harsh Realities report demonstrating the very real and severe discrimination and harassment far too many transgender and gender non-conforming individuals experience. These advocates also mentioned the professional statements from the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association further demonstrating the extent of the prejudice and discrimination experienced by these people, and the need for legal protections to help mitigate these realities.
Our very own PFLAG Columbia-Howard County chapter leader said it best:
We need a transgender anti-discrimination bill because legislation engenders education and reduces ignorance, which will help keep our kids safe, and allows them to grow into the productive members of society that we all want them to be.
Take Action: All of us at PFLAG National strongly support parents just like Catherine who work so hard to protect their kids, ensuring they will have equal opportunities to successfully transition into thriving adults. The Howard County Council has the tools to build this level playing field through the swift passage of CB54-2011. If you live in Howard County, it’s still possible to express your support for the bill by writing to Howard County Councilmembers before their December 5th vote.