Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) sent a formal letter of complaint to Speaker Larry Householder this week expressing “disappointment and concern” that LGBTQ employees are not listed as a “protected class” in the House of Representatives’ Employee Handbook.
“I write to you to today to express my disappointment and concern that my September 5 recommended edits to the House Administrative Reference Guide that would protect our LGBTQ+ members and staff from discrimination were not included in the final version that was circulated by email this morning.” She goes on to claim the policy, or lack thereof, fails to protect employees who identify as LGBTQ+ and that some staff may be, “…worried and wonder if they are safe from discrimination, retaliation or termination simply for being who they are,” Sykes wrote.
Leader Sykes took her frustrations to the media in a conference call on October 1. She called the Ohio House an “outlier” compared to the Ohio Senate and the DeWine Administration’s policies.
The Governor kept the Kasich language that protects “gender identity or expression” and sexual orientation in his Anti-Discrimination Policy, Executive Order 2019-05D. DeWine was lauded by LGBT activists such as Equality Ohio and supporters of the activist agenda in the Legislature such as Senator Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood).
According to a Gongwer article, “The Senate’s handbook section on Discrimination and Harassment reads in part, ‘The Senate is committed to creating and maintaining a work environment in which all employees are treated with respect and are free from discrimination and harassment based upon a person’s age, sex, sexual orientation, race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, or disability’.”
The Senate does not include gender identity or expression.
The Speaker’s office responded to The Ohio Star‘s request for comment with the following statement attributed to Majority Communications Director Gail Crawley,
The Ohio House of Representatives values its staff and is committed to an inclusive, professional work environment. It is the ongoing practice of the Ohio House to evaluate employees based on their knowledge, skills and abilities. The most recent version of the House Administrative Guide, consistent with last General Assembly, expressly prohibits discrimination, harassment and retaliation on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin or ancestry, disability, age (40 years or older), genetic information, veteran or military status, or any other characteristics protected by law.”