- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - The Sioux Falls City Council this week passed on a chance to expand the city’s anti-discrimination laws to include protections for transgender people, a move one advocate likened to “sweeping something under the rug.”

Measures that City Attorney David Pfeifle proposed earlier this year would have banned the city from discriminating against transgender people in its internal hiring decisions, and would have made it a city offense for private employers, landlords or business owners to discriminate against transgender people.

Pfeifle later reversed course, citing South Dakota’s pending involvement in a multistate lawsuit over the Obama administration’s directive to public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity.

The City Council in June indefinitely tabled the proposals, and council members Tuesday approved changes to employment rules without raising the transgender issue, the Argus Leader newspaper reported (https://argusne.ws/2aLkpIy ). Councilman Pat Starr said many of the changes were simply housekeeping measures, or “cleanup.”

Ashley Joubert-Gaddis, operations director for the Sioux Falls-based Center for Equality, said “sweeping something under the rug is not going to make it go away.”

Assistant City Attorney Paul Bengford said he did not know whether the council might vote on transgender protection language in the future.

The city touts equal rights for transgender workers in an equal employment opportunity statement posted on the city website, but there is nothing written in law to back up the claim.

“It’s like a mask, you know?” Joubert-Gaddis said. “It’s about the city wanting to be perceived as a more progressive and forward-moving community.”

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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