In the state of Ohio, it is legal to be fired from a job, denied housing, or refused service in a public business because of your sexual orientation or gender identity.
This year, the Ohio General Assembly granted a hearing for the first time in 9 years to the Ohio Fairness Act, a law that has been introduced every year for the last 9 years and would make this kind of discrimination illegal. The bill has not been brought to a vote, and the Ohio legislature has been negligent in regards to protecting LGBTQ+ Ohioans for about a decade.
Cuyahoga County has decided to step in to right this wrong for people living here with the introduction of Ordinance 02018-0009, which would create a Human Rights Commission that would protect all people including protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.
Recently, anti-LGBTQ+ opposition has come out stating that protecting LGBTQ+ residents from discrimination is “overreach by local politicians to into the lives of county residents with no clear benefit or purpose.”
They also have cited risks to public safety, alleging that laws that protect transgender people in the use of public accommodation will allow “men” to enter women’s restrooms to assault women and children. This misinformation ignores the facts in order to attack transgender people.
In response to these long-debunked, fear-mongering statements, here are a few reminders:
• Voyeurism, assault, and sexual assault are already crimes whether you are in a bathroom or not and protecting trans people’s rights to use the bathroom does not change that.
• Similar laws have been in effect in hundreds of cities across the country, including many in Ohio, and the experts and the statistics agree: there have not been increases in public safety incidents in cities and states with inclusive nondiscrimination laws.
• Protecting LGBTQ+ people is good for business. States like North Carolina and Indiana have passed transphobic bathroom bills previously, with serious economic consequences that hurt their citizens.
This law is about having an opportunity to safely work, play and live without fear of discrimination based on who you are or who you love. We applaud Cuyahoga County for considering this ordinance to protect our community and we support its passage.
Show your support! Call the office of the County Executive or the County Council to thank them for taking up this issue and to voice your support for the ordinance.