Columbus Human Rights Commission Signs Amendment to PolicyAs of December 20, 2006, the Human Rights Commission in Columbus, Indiana is now receiving complaints based on sexual orientation and gender identity thanks in large part to a grassroots effort led by local organizers under the umbrella of the Columbus Gay/Straight Alliance (G/SA) with consultative services provided by the Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance (INTRAA).

“Commissioners unanimously voted in favor of the resolution amending the rules and regulations to change ‘handicap’ language to ‘disability,’ add voluntary mediation for age discrimination, and include voluntary mediation for sexual orientation and gender identity,” stated Arlette Cooper Tinsley, the Director of the Columbus Human Rights Commission.

For the past six months, the Commission has solicited input from the community on the scope and type of discrimination that is occurring in the Columbus area. INTRAA’s Discrimination Story Collection Project has participated in this effort to raise awareness about discrimination faced by transgender and gender variant people. Also, at the December 20 public hearing, INTRAA Board Member and Instructor at the Kelley School of Business, Deanna Lahre, testified about her experience teaching as a transgender woman Indiana University-Purdue University at Columbus (IUPUC).

INTRAA extends its deepest gratitude to Ms. Lahre for sharing her story at the hearing as well as to the Commission sub-committee headed up by Ian Kohen, with members John Roberts and John Stroh for their efforts in responding to community concerns by compiling and submitting these recommendations to the full Commission.

“Even though the remedy is currently voluntary mediation, we are nonetheless encouraged that a municipal entity has recognized that discrimination is occurring and should not go unchecked,” commented Vivian Benge, President of INTRAA. “We commend the Human Rights Commission for its diligence in this matter and for taking this step to help improve the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in Columbus.”

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