WINCHESTER — A decision by the Frederick County Board of Supervisors to remove workplace protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) staff members is not a dead issue, board members say.

At Wednesday night’s board meeting, seven residents urged the panel to reconsider its Aug. 14 decision to rescind a policy that had been in place for about a month extending protections to LGBTQ county government employees per its anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy.

Shawnee District resident Victoria Kidd urged the board to restore protections for LGBTQ employees, saying “LGBTQ people have an awful lot to offer this community.”

“On a more personal level, I am here to speak to you tonight because as an individual, I have personally been fired from a job before for being a member of the LGBTQ community,” said Kidd, who co-owns the Hideaway Cafe in Winchester. “I can tell you that that is not something that I ever want anyone else to experience. It is very personal, it is very hurtful.”

On Aug. 14, the board voted 6-1 to rescind its recently implemented policy on the basis that it violated Virginia’s Dillon Rule, which limits a local governing body’s authority to only pass ordinances or exercise power in areas where the General Assembly has granted authority. Virginia has no law protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the private or public workplace.

Red Bud Run District Supervisor Blaine Dunn explained at the time the county’s policy had to be revoked because it violated the Dillon Rule.

Shawnee District Supervisor Shannon Trout was the only member who voted against rescinding the policy.

People who spoke at Wednesday’s meeting pointed out that Alexandria and Arlington County have protections for their employees based on sexual orientation and that the state government bans discrimination against state employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

County resident William Wright, who is bisexual, said the only thing that matters is whether employees can do what is required in their job.

“Me being bisexual is not a choice,” Wright said. “It is what I am. It would not be relative to how well I can do my job.”

Tabitha Shanholtzer, who has lived in the county more than 50 years and is transgender, also told the supervisors she has faced discrimination.

“I have almost 40 years of work experience in construction,” Shanholtzer said. “I have experienced being told, ‘I don’t want to hire you because you are transgender.’”

Dunn told the audience the board is having discussions with the county’s Human Resources director to find language for the policy that would be compatible with state law. He said a more in-depth discussion will be held at a future Human Resources Committee meeting. Dunn is chairman of the committee.

Gainesboro District Supervisor J. Douglas McCarthy, who is on the county’s HR Committee, said the county is trying to craft a policy that would not cause legal challenges but would ensure that no county employee is unjustly discriminated against or harassed

He said he would support restoring the LGBTQ protections if they turn out to not be in violation of the Dillon Rule.

“I do think that the intention is that this will come back,” McCarthy said about the issue. “I don’t think this is a dead deal.”

Attending Wednesday night’s board meeting at the County Administration Building were Chairman Charles DeHaven Jr. and supervisors Gary Lofton, Blaine Dunn, Shannon Trout, J. Douglas McCarthy, Judith McCann-Slaughter and Bob Wells.

— Contact Josh Janney at jjanney@winchesterstar.com

(7) comments

Ping

Well if course they are going to reconsider. They were no doubt bombarded in a well orchestrated campaign to reconsider. No doubt the handful of local activists were heavily supplemented by outsiders and "missionaries" for the lifestyle, which is just the front of a whole laundry load of social engineering that comes part and oar do with it.






anon

It is not a choice. Please be more understanding. I know you are perfect but sometime someone you know or a family member will tell you they are gay. When they do you want them to be protected from folks with attitudes like you. I use to think like you did. We should not discriminate against people for who they love.

Jasba64

Here we go pandering to specific groups, once more.

trunuyawkr

Yes - the group of people who love other, of age, consenting adults. Man, how horrible

Jasba64

You just described males and females, alike.

DaWholeTruth

I agree. How about, and this is a really zany suggestion, we apply for employment and do our jobs dutifully WITHOUT announcing or discussing our personal sexual proclivities in or around the workplace???? I know, I know - every supervisor needs to know what you were doing with your privates the night before at precisely 2:34 am....but how 'bout we just give it a try? I believe this all worked, from what I recall, for decades, decades ago.

anon

Nobody announces when they are applying for a job. They just want a job. Sometimes it is obvious. This also prevents them from being fired for who they are. Believe it or not people are still uncomfortable with folks that are different from themselves. Until you and all of your friends fully accept these kind of protections will be needed. My hope is one day they will not be needed because everyone will understand.

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