Dallas County Colleges Add Transgender Workplace and Campus Protections
January 11, 2012 by Candace Gingrich-Jones, Associate Director, Youth and Campus Outreach Program
Governor Rick Perry needs to pay some attention to the progress going on in his home state of Texas! The Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) recently added gender identity and expression to three of its policies. DCCCD is comprised of seven separate campuses and is one of the largest school systems in the state. In a four to one vote the District’s board of trustees voted to amend the employment non-discrimination policy, affecting around 7,000 school employees. Nearly 100,000 students are affected by the other two changes which amended the school’s student non-discrimination policy and the student code of conduct.
Changes in policy most often begins with employees advocating for LGBT equality within the workplace. The efforts to amend the policies at DCCCD started from within the school’s staff and faculty with support from some members of the administration. Resource Center Dallas played a leading role in advocating for the amended policies. The Center approached DCCCD last summer as a continuation of its work advocating for inclusive policies at Dallas ISD, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, DFW International Airport and Dallas County government. Staff met with a member of the DCCCD board of trustees, as well as the district’s human resources director. In November, the district’s chief counsel wrote saying that the transgender community was already covered under the city of Dallas’ nondiscrimination ordinance. The Center engaged in educating him and other DCCCD leadership, because his legal analysis and conclusion were incomplete. The city ordinance has an exemption for governmental bodies, which includes DCCCD. The Center encouraged members of the LGBT community to contact DCCCD Chancellor Dr. Wright Lassiter and board members in support of the policy. In addition, three members of the Dallas City Council wrote letters of support. As a result, the board scheduled a vote for the January meeting.
The Center’s advocacy for local policy change means around 300,000 people in the Dallas area have fully inclusive nondiscrimination protections regardless if they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender; 39,000 public sector employees now have transgender protections, and a quarter-million students have protections based on gender identity and gender expression. This exemplifies the Center's mission to provide transformative education and advocacy.
While community colleges have sometimes lagged behind four-year schools in advancing LGBT equality, some schools in Texas have bucked the trend. DCCCD joins two other community colleges in the state - Houston Community College and San Jacinto College. Students, staff and faculty at flagship school Texas A&M continue to advocate for the addition of both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to the school’s non-discrimination policy.