Pittsburg residents push for city to create ordinance against discrimination
Q Space starts petition
PITTSBURG, Kan. — There are 28 states in the country with no laws protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. Those include Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
This year, Kansas passed a law that prohibits discrimination in the workplace. But it doesn’t protect LGBTQ people applying for housing or accommodations.
A number of cities in Kansas have created non-discrimination policies. Including Lawrence, Lenexa, Overland Park, Prairie Village, Roeland Park, Shawnee, and Topeka.
A group in Pittsburg is working on getting the city on that list.
Pittsburg resident Amber Hames has helped run Q Space — a group for LGBTQ people — for almost six months.
“When I first sought out Q Space, I was looking for a community of like-minded individuals,” says Amber Hames, a grad student at Pitt State and vice-chair of Q Space.
Unfortunately, Hames says that openness isn’t found everywhere.
“The way people interact with you… it can be different instantaneously once they know, so it’s something that’s out there,” says Hames.
So now, the group is working to change that.
“We’re currently trying to get a non-discrimination ordinance petition for Pittsburg,” explains Hames.
Their petition calls on the city to create an ordinance, protecting people from discrimination based on things like race, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
The city *does* have a human relations commission that investigates discrimination — but it doesn’t specifically cover discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
But it’s about more than just having something on the books.
“It’s the fear of not being able to be yourself in the place where you live, in the place where you work, with your co-workers, not being sure what’s okay to say and share about your life,” says Ali Smith, Chair of Q Space. “I think that that keeps people from doing the things that they want to do and being able to make a change in this community.”
“We are a great community with great people. And I feel like if more people just felt comfortable to be themselves, they would add to that. So, I would really like to see that change,” explains Hames.
In the end, they say it’s an effort to help everyone feel welcome in their own community.
The petition has more than 200 signatures in five days.
The group plans to present the petition to the city commission during their meeting on Tuesday, November 12th.
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