Mayor Ed Murray signed an Executive Order Wednesday instructing the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to develop uniform guidance and training for front-line City staff on how to best continue providing safe and inclusive spaces for residents, including transgender and gender-diverse people. The order also instructs the City to continue work notifying businesses with places of public accommodation of Seattle’s all-gender restroom signage law.
“City facilities must be safe and welcoming places for all residents, including transgender and gender-diverse people,” said Murray. “Front-line City staff will have the training they need to understand our ordinances and state laws that protect the rights of transgender people and protect them from harassment and violence. The law requires that we provide access to the facilities that correspond to a person’s gender identity, and everyone deserves to be treated with respect.”
Under the Executive Order, OCR will develop culturally relevant training and guidelines for City staff in coordination with community based organizations, such as the Pride Foundation. Trainings will help staff that directly work with the public follow existing City ordinances that ensure members of the transgender community have fair access to restrooms and other places of public accommodation.
“As a transgender man, I know that so few people personally know a transgender person, and it can be hard to understand what it means to be transgender—even for those trying to make sense of this issue calmly and reasonably,” said Seth Kirby, Vice Chair of the Pride Foundation and Executive Director of Oasis Youth Center. “We are part of your workplaces, classrooms, neighborhoods, families, churches, and communities—and we need to be able to use the restroom, just like everyone else. Pride Foundation looks forward to working to ensure no one is excluded or unfairly discriminated against simply because of who they are, especially transgender people.”
Additionally, the order directs OCR and the Seattle Department of Human Resources (SDHR) to develop employment policies that ensure that the City, in its role as an employer, is providing a safe and inclusive workplace for its transgender and gender-diverse employees.
“SDHR is fully committed to and inspired by the Mayor’s commitment to equity and inclusion for our City employees,” said Susan Coskey, director of SDHR. “The City as an employer must model the behaviors, policies and practices that we expect from other employers in the region. Developing and implementing the inclusive policies described in the Executive Order is not only the right thing to do for our transgender and gender-diverse employees, it is also the right thing to do for all City employees.”
In August of 2015, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed Murray’s proposal requiring all City-controlled and privately operated places of public accommodation to designate existing and future single-stall restrooms as all-gender facilities. The legislation also clarifies existing law allowing individuals to use restrooms and facilities of their chosen gender identity or expression. The legislation was a recommendation from the Mayor’s LGBTQ Task Force and the City of Seattle’s LGBTQ Commission.
“The Mayor’s Executive Order affirms our City’s commitment to upholding the rights and dignity of all people,” said Patricia Lally, Director of the Office for Civil Rights. “My staff and I are eager to develop training for City staff on the rights of transgender and gender-diverse people that can serve as a model for how to create an inclusive environment.”
The signing of the Executive Order also coincides with Wednesday’s release of a Seattle Police Department (SPD) internal training video for officers on the appropriate treatment of transgender residents. SPD developed the training in partnership with the transgender community and includes personal stories from transgender individuals. The video was prepared in accordance with SPD’s transgender policy that was unveiled earlier this year.