St. Louis County expands discrimination protection to transgender county employees
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page signed a bill Wednesday that strengthens the county’s anti-bias laws to protect county employees and contractors from discrimination based on their gender expression.
Transgender people in the community are being attacked because of their gender identity, Page said at a press conference.
"The bill I'm signing today clarifies and expands the county's anti-discrimination laws, safeguarding our transgender employees,” Page said. “The bill speaks specifically to transgender expression.”
The County Council voted 4-3 last week to approve the bill sponsored by Councilwoman Lisa Clancy, D-Maplewood.
Clancy said she wanted to ensure that St. Louis County government is an inclusive place to work and that it encompasses an environment where people feel they belong.
“That is an important priority of mine because it's an important priority of our region and all of my neighbors who call St. Louis County and our region home,” Clancy said.
Clancy worked on the bill for 18 months with the Human Rights Campaign and PROMO, two human rights advocacy organizations.
The bill helps make the county a more enjoyable place to raise kids, live and work, said Shira Berkowitz, senior director of public policy and advocacy for PROMO, a LGBTQ equality state advocacy group.
"Our state elected officials are trying to make it a little bit harder these days to be a successful transgender student living in Missouri,” Berkowitz said. “We are incredibly appreciative that the county is taking affirmative steps to make sure that transgender and gender expansive kids know that this is a place where they can thrive, be successful and are supported and loved.”
The County Council is sending a message that the county will defend its transgender employees or contractors, said Steve Alagna, volunteer leader for the Human Rights Campaign St. Louis.
"We are grateful that through this legislation, the county has made it clear that people will be protected against discrimination for their gender expression,” Alagna said.