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Dallas Transit Agency Infuriates LGBT Community

Dallas Transit Agency Infuriates LGBT Community

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The Dallas Area Rapid Transit authority claims it was trying to be more inclusive by updating its nondiscrimination policy, but many claim the agency is utilizing a loophole to allow discrimination against gay and transgender people.

The updated policy reads as follows: "DART is committed to hiring, promoting and retaining the best qualified persons in all positions and, except to the extent permitted by federal and/or Texas law, DART will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other characteristic protected by law."

Dallas's LGBT community is taking umbrage at the word "except." Discrimination in hiring and firing based on sexual orientation and gender identity is currently permitted on the federal level and within Texas. Ken Upton with Lambda Legal told the Dallas Voice newspaper that he believes the change was made intentionally by DART's board of directors to gut protections for gays and transgender people.

"You'd like to think they're just stupid, but the truth is you have to assume that the people who write these things at least have basic language skills," Upton told the Voice, adding that he believes the "except" was added in a closed session of the board of directors. "Supposedly there's at least one attorney involved, so I have to assume it's intentional."

Morgan Lyons, DART spokesman, gave the following statement to The Advocate via e-mail: "The policy has not been approved yet. It is scheduled for a vote on Tuesday. It's our opinion the policy being considered by the board will offer nondiscrimination protection in the case of gender identity."

DART operates bus lines, light-rail lines, and commuter rail that serve over 220,000 people daily in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.

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