DUNEDIN — City commissioners approved an addition to their anti-discrimination ordinance Thursday that prohibits discrimination in access to city hotels, motels, restaurants, entertainment venues and other establishments open to the public based on "sexual orientation and gender identification or expression."
The city of Gulfport is the only other Pinellas County government that includes "gender identification or expression" as part of its anti-discrimination ordinance. Transgender people include those who cross dress or who are transsexuals, have changed or would like to change their physical sex.
The Dunedin ordinance includes transgenders, but it only covers public accommodations like hotels and restaurants. It will not address discrimination in housing or employment. City Attorney John Hubbard advised the commission that it would be expensive to set up procedures and a bureaucracy to enforce those measures, whereas the city's current code enforcement employees could inexpensively enforce the accommodations measure.
Under questioning by Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski, Hubbard reversed an earlier opinion that transgendered people are well-protected by other governments in regard to housing and employment. Pinellas County's ordinance does not protect the transgendered, the group most likely to suffer hate crimes and discrimination in housing and employment according to the advocacy group Equality Florida.
Bujalski noted another factor that often engenders discrimination, but is missing from the ordinance: age. "That's an oversight we need to correct," she said.