Transgender Ordinance Debate
Petitioners have until the end of this month to get enough signatures for an item on the November ballot. Business owners got together this morning to hear how to deal with the ordinance in the mean time.
Gender identity, sexual orientation, and an ordinance that protects people from discrimination. In that protection, the right to choose which public restroom suits one's gender identity not necessarily their sex. It's not your usual morning conversation, but it was the main course for members of the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday morning.
"We have had reports of discrimination based upon gender identity and sexual orientation," said Gainesville City Commissioner Craig Lowe. "And the ordinance is drawn up to protect people against that type of discrimination."
Gainesville City Commissioners passed the measure back in January. But now, a group of residents are fighting it including former commissioner Ed Braddy. He says the right to choose which restroom to use presents problems.
"The potential for abuse is great," said Braddy.
Lowe disagrees. He says it's about equality and allowing people to live their lives as the gender they feel most comfortable with.
"I have faith in the voters and the citizens of Gainesville that they will support equal opportunity, and reject calls for discrimination," said Lowe.
Business owner Katie Smith attended the panel discussion, which was held at Gator's Dockside off University Avenue. She says she's signed the petition to get the ordinance on the ballot.
"I am concerned about my granddaughters and my daughters going into a facility where a man can just feel like a woman and walk in there," said Katie Smith.
Smith says she's worried about sexual predators taking advantage of such opportunities. That'sÂ a point Commissioner Lowe countered claiming that of all the other municipalities in the country that have such ordinances in place, no such incidents have occurred.
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