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Saturday, September 30, 2023

The Cougar Editorial Board stands with HERO

There has been a lot of misinformation thrown around about the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance on the ballot this election.

All across Houston, there are signs reading “no men in women’s bathrooms” in a effort to distort and confuse the general public on what the bill actually does.

To summarize, the bill prohibits discrimination in city employment and city services, city contracts, public accommodations, private employment, and housing based on an individual’s “sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, family status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or pregnancy.”

The bill isn’t specifically about transgender individuals, it expands protection against all forms of discrimination to many groups, including religion and even those in the military.

The controversy stems from a false belief that this legislation will open the door for “…troubled men who claim to be women to enter women’s bathrooms,” as former Astros star Lance Berkman so eloquently puts it.

This is not what this ordinance will do.

The fact of the matter is, it is already illegal to sexually assault anyone, regardless of if the instance happens in a bathroom. There has been virtually no evidence in any other city with similar ordinances that these laws open the door for men to enter bathrooms to violate women.

Denying equal rights is a form of discrimination. This ordinance is meant to have Houston join the over 225 cities and counties, which includes every other Texas city, that have passed laws that extends protection against discrimination to those in the LGBTQ community. Current laws only protect against racial, gender, and other minority group discrimination.

Take the case of Michael Hughes, a fully-bearded, transgender man, who tweeted a picture of himself in a women’s restroom with the hashtag #wejustneedtopee.

If a woman sees someone with a beard in their restroom, they won’t immediately assume they’re transgender. In this case, both Michael and the women in the restroom felt uncomfortable, and this is something HERO means to prevent.

Houston is currently on track to become the third largest city in the U.S. We need this law to show that this is an all-inclusive city that is fully accepting of everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or sexual identity.

Not passing this bill could potentially harm Houston businesses and hurt our chance of hosting major sporting events like the Super Bowl, too.

Even Houston Texans owner Bob McNair recanted his opposition to HERO, saying he does not believe in “personal or professional discrimination of any kind.”

Business groups like the Greater Houston Partnership say this ordinance is important because we need a fully inclusive and diverse workforce for the “…continued success of the region’s economy.”

Look, no one is asking you to completely understand transsexual lifestyle. Many believe that God made you who you are and you shouldn’t go against that. That’s understandable.

But you cannot force your understanding or belief of what a human being is or should be on everyone else.

Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the country. We need to live up to our reputation of being all-inclusive.

—The Cougar Editorial Board

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