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Published: Tuesday, 5/6/2008

Lucas County considering anti-bias resolution

BY ALEX M. PARKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Lucas County commissioners are poised to pass an anti-discrimination resolution that includes protections for county employees against discrimination for sexual orientation or gender identity.

"As the county competes with other employers to attract and retain the best work force possible, it is vital that the county adopt policies that focus on merit, treat all employees and applicants with respect and dignity, and prohibit discriminatory conduct," a resolution to be considered at the commissioners' meeting today states.

Lucas would be one of the few counties in Ohio to grant protection to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees, Kim Welters, a program manager at Equality Ohio, said.

Cuyahoga, Franklin, and Summit counties have similar protections, Ms. Welters said, though Summit and Cuyahoga counties do not go so far as to protect transgender employees or those who do not identify with traditional gender roles.

Ms. Welters said she approached the commissioners about broadening the protections. "Any organization, any municipality, any government that wants to be a place where businesses want to do business needs to have policies like this," she said.

All three commissioners have said they support the resolution.

"I don't believe we practice discrimination, but I think it's important to make it recognizable within the policy," said Tina Skeldon Wozniak, president of the commissioners. "I think it's the right thing to do, but I also believe communities that are progressive in their policies toward protection of people's rights have stronger communities."

Commissioner Ben Konop issued a statement voicing his approval. "Not only is it the right thing to do from a moral perspective, it's the right thing to do from a job-creating perspective," he said. "Social science research has shown that a community that is more diverse is more successful economically, and passing this resolution will be a small step toward making our community known nationally as one that is inclusive."

Commissioner Pete Gerken said he was surprised to find that the county did not already have such a policy.

"I hope it was an oversight," Mr. Gerken said. "I hope all commissioners support it, that it's OK to be different, you'll still be protected."

Contact Alex M. Parker at:

aparker@theblade.com

or 419-724-6107.



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