Five Reasons Anchorage Must Vote to Defend Transgender Nondiscrimination ProtectionsBy Shane Stahl • April 2, 2018 • 4:43 pm
April 3 marks the deadline for ballots in the special election in Anchorage, Alaska, during which time voters will determine the fate of their municipality’s non-discrimination protections for transgender citizens.
Fair Anchorage has been leading the effort to defend transgender-inclusive non-discrimination protections, and Freedom for All Americans has been proud to support these efforts, including with staff on the ground now.
Here are five reasons a NO vote is essential on Proposition 1:
Transgender People Deserve the Same Protections As Everyone Else Under Anchorage Law
Since 2015 in Anchorage, transgender people have been afforded the same nondiscrimination protections as everyone else under municipal law and in that time, there has not been a single negative effect as a result. Transgender people simply want the same rights afforded to all other people — the ability to live openly and participate fully in the world, without the fear of being harassed, intimidated, or vulnerable to violence. Furthermore, they should have the same security as everyone else — that when it comes to finding a retaining a job, moving into a residence, or accessing public accommodations, they won’t be discriminated against or turned away simply for being who they are.
Proposition 1 Would Harm Transgender Youth
If basic protections for transgender people under Anchorage law are repealed, it’s transgender students who would be the most impacted. Current municipal law ensures protections for transgender students in Anchorage’s public schools. The Anchorage Education Association has already come out in a statement saying that Prop 1 is dangerous, and does not align with the values of the school district.
Transgender youth are most vulnerable in instances of discrimination, and feel that their school does not have their best interests or well-being in mind. Growing up in a municipality that would openly vote to strip you of your rights would no doubt harm students across Anchorage.
Fair Anchorage featured a family, the Lockards, in a series of television and web ads where their transgender son Col spoke out about why keeping these protections in place is vital for his safety:
“I’m scared that if Proposition 1 passes, I would be bullied and harassed, and forced to use the girls’ restroom at school.”
Another transgender student, C.J. Gillis, also spoke out in an interview with KTVA, where he and his family spoke about C.J.’s coming out process, as well as why it is safest and most logical for C.J. to use the boys’ restroom, as it corresponds to his gender identity.
Proposition 1 Won’t Make Anchorage Safer
Opponents have continually pushed a false narrative that transgender people are dangerous and to be feared, and that ensuring everyone can use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity poses a severe security risk, mostly to women and girls. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In the 18 states and over 200 cities—including Anchorage—where similar nondiscrimination protections are in effect, there has not been a single uptick in public safety incidents.
Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll testified before the Anchorage General Assembly that he and his department see “no concern” about transgender people in public bathrooms, and that were it to pass, he “doesn’t [sic] have the staff to post an officer at every bathroom” to enforce the initiative as written. Additionally, President of the Anchorage Local Firefighters Union, Mike Stambaugh, addresses his organization’s disapproval in a strongly worded letter to the editor underscoring that basic protections for transgender people does not pose a threat to public safety..
Perhaps the most powerful voice has been that of Keeley Olson, the executive director of Standing Up Against Rape (STAR), Anchorage’s leading group providing resources, support, and care for victims of sexual violence. Olsen has compellingly made the argument that women and girls are no less safe with transgender women having access to women’s bathrooms and locker rooms, and that, “ensuring dignity to transgender people is not a threat to public safety.”
Additional groups including the Alaska Children’s Trust, Alaska Children’s Alliance, and Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault have criticized the efforts of Prop 1 proponents, warning that misleading messaging guiding this initiative is doing the most damage to children in Anchorage.
Parents and Teachers Across Anchorage Are Voting NO
Proposition 1 would put real families—and young people—in danger across Anchorage. That’s why a broad coalition of families and educators have been speaking out against this discriminatory initiative, urging Anchorage voters to reject Prop 1 to keep students safe.
The Lockard family put their story front and center, and have spoken to people across the city about what it is like to raise a transgender child and be concerned for their safety. Additionally, many of the women of Anchorage featured in a recent ad are mothers themselves, who believe that all children should grow up in a city that affords dignity and respect to everyone who calls Anchorage home, regardless of who they are or how they identify.
And while the Anchorage School District is legally prohibited from taking a stance on ballot initiatives, Dr. Deena Bishop, Anchorage City School superintendent, explained at a School Board meeting earlier this year that the current law protecting transgender students is working well—and that if Proposition 1 were to pass, the Anchorage School District would not “stand guard at the bathroom doors” to enforce discrimination against transgender students. Additionally, several individual teachers have spoken out against the need for Prop 1, saying it would have long-lasting, negative consequences on students.
Carol Comeau, former head superintendent of the Anchorage School District, says not only is this cruel—it’s against the mission of the Anchorage School District.
“The mission of the Anchorage School District is ‘To educate ALL students for success in life,’” she says, quoting the motto she’s had memorized for more than 30 years. “The ALL is in caps for a reason. Every student should be able to go to school to focus on learning, not being targeted for discrimination because of their gender identity.”
Proposition 1 Will Harm Anchorage’s Economy
Similar to what happened in North Carolina after transgender protections in public accommodations there were taken away, Anchorage stands to sustain a severe economic loss of this discriminatory ballot measure is to pass.
On February 5, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce released a statement opposing Proposition 1. The group, which has represented over 900 businesses and their 50,000 employees in Anchorage for over 100 years, said partly:
“The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce believes that passing Proposition 1 would be detrimental to business in the city. Many conferences and potential new business would be lost due to this discriminatory legislation which would convey the message that Anchorage is not a welcoming city.”
Shortly following the Chamber’s announcement, the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation sent a letter to its Board of Directors, stating:
“AEDC believes this initiative would inflict unnecessary discrimination on members of the community, and that it solves no evident problem that has been created by the original passage of the anti-discrimination ordinance. Moreover, this ordinance would have significant negative economic impacts on our city, the largest economy in the state.”
Over 40 local businesses—including staples of Anchorage like Beartooth, Snow City Cafe and Fire Island Rustic Bakery–also joined together in a coalition and announced their combined support for a No vote.
For more information, visit Fair Anchorage’s website.