City of Ithaca amending policies tonight to include “gender identity and expression”

The City of Ithaca already has anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies in place, and already protects transgender people in city code, but an agenda item at tonight’s Common Council meeting will specifically list “gender identity or expression” as a protected class and bring code language up to date.

City of Ithaca Seal“Several years ago the term ‘gender identity or expression’ was included as part of a revision from the Workforce Diversity Committee, but it was only changed in that one workplace policy document and not throughout the code,” Common Council member and acting mayor Deborah Mohlenhoff tells us.

City officials caught the discrepancy when copying the anti-discrimination clause from the City web site to prepare a proclamation for an Ithaca Is Love event last summer. “We realized that the non-discrimination clause used in various sections of the City [code] had several different versions,” Mohlenhoff says.

No one came to public comment sessions at committee meetings to discuss the changes, Mohlenhoff tells us. “It seemed a low-key, no brainer thing — but important enough for us to work on being clear and consistent throughout the code.”

“We found 12 or so different lists with regard to our non-discrimination clause — one has age, one didn’t; one had weight, one didn’t, etc. So, in addition to the deep dive about use of the term gender, we also wanted that paragraph to be the same wherever we used it,” Mohlenhoff adds.

Multiple sections of City code would be amended tonight to prohibit discrimination or harassment based on “actual or perceived age; creed; color; disability; domestic violence victim status; ethnicity; familial status; gender; gender identity or expression; height; immigration or citizenship status; marital status; military status; national origin; predisposing genetic characteristics; race; religion; sex; sexual orientation; socioeconomic status; or weight.”

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