City considers adding anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Topekans

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Topeka city council is considering policy changes meant to protect LGBTQ people when it comes to their jobs and housing.

Right now discrimination in Topeka is banned when it comes to things like race, religion, and age. Some are saying sexual orientation and gender identity needs to be added to the list of protected classes.

The discussion started with people who came to Topeka’s Human Relations Commission to talk about protecting LGBTQ people, specifically when it comes to where they work and live. At Tuesday’s Topeka city council meeting Commissioner William Naeger, from the Human Relations Board, asked council members to consider those changes.

“Updating the language of the non-discrimination ordinance in reference to both housing and employment protections for different groups that in the past have been targeted”, Naeger said.

Naeger said right now discrimination is a real concern for LGBTQ people who live and work in Topeka.

“If they were to say something at work about like ‘What did you do this weekend?’ ‘Well, I went out with my significant other.’ But if I were to say that, just by having that small talk I might get fired,” Naeger said.

Topeka city employees already have anti-discrimination protections that include sexual orientation and gender identity. The human relations commission now wants council members to make sure those protections extend to all Topekans.

“There’s no reason for them to hide who they are or evade certain questions just for them to have basic security in their workplace or their place where they live.”

Council members didn’t make a decision on Tuesday. They sent the issue to a council committee to come up with recommended changes.

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