Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 33, Ed. 1 Friday, December 30, 2011 Page: 12 of 44
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County, DISD, FWISD added trans protections
6 Although transgender rights continue to
be the last frontier in the ongoing battle for
• LGBT equality, the trans community made
significant progress in North Texas in 2011.
The all-too-familiar scenario of transgender
being left out of laws protecting lesbians and gays
played out in March when the Dallas County
Commissioners Court voted in favor of adding
sexual orientation — but not gender identity and
expression—to the nondiscrimination policy cov-
ering the county's roughly 7,000 employees,
County Judge Clay Jenkins and Commissioner
Dr. Elba Garcia, two Democrats who spearheaded
the addition of sexual orientation to the policy,
said they had not been aware of the distinction be-
tween sexual orientation and gender identity and
But after Dallas Voice reported on the oversight,
LGBT advocates went back to the court to insist
that commissioners correct the omission.
Republican Commissioner Maureen Dickey
added insult to injury during an April Commis-
sioners Court meeting when she not only an-
nounced she would vote against trans protections,
but also compared being transgender to being
But on April 26 — after activists spoke at several
consecutive meetings in an effort coordinated by
Resource Center Dallas — the court voted 3-2
along party lines to add trans protections. Jenkins,
Garcia and Commissioner John Wiley Price voted
in favor of trans protections, while Dickey and fel-
low Republican Mike Cantrell voted against them.
Dallas County is the only county in the state
with a trans-inclusive employment nondiscrimi-
nation policy — and momentum from the deci-
sion appeared to spread as the year went forward.
In late June, the Fort Worth school board added
gender identity and expression to the district's
anti-bullying policy. And in early August, shortly
STRIKING A POSE | LGBT activists celebrate outside the Dallas County Administration Building in April,
after the Commissioners Court voted to add transgender protections to the county's employment
nondiscrimination policy. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)
before the start of a new school year, came news
that the Dallas school board would consider a se-
ries of policy changes intended to protect trans-
gender students, faculty and other employees
from discrimination and harassment. The vote to
add the protections came on Aug. 25.
The wave of transgender victories hit a small
snag in November, when the Dallas County Com-
munity College District initially refused to add
trans protections, insisting that the district's pro-
tections based on sexual orientation covered trans
people. But after another effort coordinated by the
Resource Center, DCCCD President Wright Las-
siter announced in November that an amendment
to the district's nondiscrimination policy to specifi-
cally protect transgender people is on the agenda
for the board's January meeting.
— Tammye Nasli
From Page 6
who had 41 percent.
The two candidates continued to court the LGBT
vote in the runoff, both participating in a second
debate on LGBT issues, this one sponsored by Dal-
las Voice and partner organizations. Although
DGLA had shifted its endorsement to Kunkle,
Rawlings' performance in the second debate
seemed to win over some LGBT voters, and he
won the runoff and the mayor's seat, with 56 per-
cent of the vote. Kunkle, however, again captured
the most heavily LGBT precincts.
DGLA and Stonewall also split their endorse-
ments in the District 14 City Council race, where
longtime LGBT ally Angela Hunt faced three op
ponents, including one-time supporter James
Nowlin, a gay man who filed in the race early
when Hunt was still considering a run for the
mayor's seat. The race split the community, with
Stonewall Democrats endorsing Nowlin, who was
a member of the organization, and DGLA backing
Hunt. Hunt went on to win another term of the
council without a runoff, taking 65 percent of the
vote in the general election. Nowlin was second
with 30 percent.
In Fort Worth, former City Councilman Jim
Lane, who was on the council When the city be-
came one of the first in the state to include protec-
tions for lesbians and gays in its nondiscrimination
ordinance, and former Tarrant County Tax Ap-
praiser/Collector Betsy Price were the top two
vote-getters in the general election, and during the
runoff campaigns, the two met for the first-ever
Fort Worth mayoral debate focusing on LGBT is-
While Price had raised suspicion among some
with a vague answer regarding her position on the
city's recent decision to include protections based
on gender identity and gender expression in the
nondiscrimination ordinance, both she and Lane
pledged at the debate sponsored by the GLBT
chamber and Fairness Fort Worth to support LGBT
equality and to maintain an open door to the com-
Price went on to win the runoff, 56 percent to 44
percent, and in October became the first Fort Worth
mayor to not only ride in, but also serve as grand
marshal of, the Tarrant County Gay Pride Parade.
Also in Fort Worth, the city's first and only
openly gay councilmember, Joel Burns, still riding
a wave of national popularity following his "It Gets
Better" speech during a council meeting the previ-
ous October, didn't even draw an opponent in his
bid for a second full term on the council.
Down the road in Arlington, Chris Hightower
became the first openly gay candidate to run for
city council, tossing his hat into the ring along with
three others challenging District 5 incumbent Lana
Wolff. Hightower, who easily outpaced all the can-
didates in fundraising, came out on top of the heap
in the general election. But he lost the runoff to
Wolff by less than 100 votes, an outcome many of
his supporters blamed on anti-gay robocalls de-
scribing him as a "weirdo," a "convicted sex per-
vert" and a "sex creep"—even though Hightower
has no criminal record.
— Ta mmye Nash
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Nash, Tammye. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 33, Ed. 1 Friday, December 30, 2011, newspaper, December 30, 2011; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239200/m1/12/: accessed October 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.