Yes, she's strange and different...but not THAT different.

12 March 2007

Courage in the Face of Workplace Discrimination

(from GenderPAC)


Queer Eye's Ted Allen, GPAC Talk With Largo Manager About Firing, Transition

WASHINGTON (March 12, 2007) – After seventeen years of dedicated service to Largo, FL, City Manager Steven Stanton was fired on Feb. 27, 2007 when he disclosed his plans to transition to female. Since then, Steven has received a tremendous outpouring of support - from family, community members, celebrities and national organizations.

At the onset of Women's History Month, Steven and his counsel, Karen Doering from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, joined Ted Allen, co-star of Emmy Award-winning "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and Riki Wilchins, Executive Director of GenderPAC, for a candid conversation about work life, family life, and transitioning on the job.

Here are a few highlights. [To read the complete transcript, click here.]

On Coming Out:

SS: After we had the rejection of the Human Rights Ordinance [in 2003], a number of gay employees showed so much courage and came forward as City employees. One in particular came into my office trembling and asked "Are you going to fire me, Mr. City Manager? Are you going to fire me if I come to the City Commission meeting to testify why I think the Human Rights Ordinance ought to protect me from discrimination based on my sexual orientation? I’m a good neighbor - I mow my grass. I come in; I do my work. I’'m a good citizen."

She was asking me if I was going to fire her for saying that and not only was I not but I assured her and said that she should in fact communicate that at the commission meeting that night. She did and she did an outstanding job but I also realized you know I sat there hiding behind a business suit while everybody else, people that worked for me were taking the bullet. And it was a moment of decision in my life saying I need to do something.

Talking with his son:

SS: There was a lot of discussion about my insensitivity to my son’s needs. Everybody thought that he learned from the news media. He did not learn from the news media. He learned from mom and dad that night sitting in our living room. We talked about courage, we talked about conviction, we talked about doing something that was so personally sensitive that his daddy had been struggling with as a very small boy.

I don'’t want this to be just a technical legal appeal about Steve Stanton. I want to make sure that the education component happens.

We talked about the inside growing up and matching the outside and that I was going through the process of trying to make the outside and the inside the same. And we talked about the core values that make people, people and make a dad, a dad and make a relationship between the son and the father sustainable over time irrespective of one’s gender. And he’s been great. He has been super, he has not missed a day at school, he’'s not missed an hour of school.

On his future with City of Largo:

SS: I’'m a good manager, this is a great community and I do want my job. In the same sense more than once it has occurred to me that I have devoted my passion to this organization and all of a sudden this issue is so much bigger than Steve Stanton. And in some instances I thought it could be the best thing for myself and certainly others, you know, go ahead and fire me and we’'ll continue to show, like one of the ministers who we were really talking about, that all America’'s watching.

That's why they needed to fire me. Then, maybe, all America is watching and I might actually have a better voice and a better impact on more communities in another capacity.

On Fashion:

TA: The issue of whether Steven needs any kind of assistance with fashion is something that we haven’'t even got to yet. That'’s a whole different conversation but I still have Carson’s cell phone number and I'’d be happy to call him in if you need any assistance.

RW: "Queer Eye" can show you some wonderful, sensible shoes for city managers!

SS: I could actually see Ted making that phone call. We have joked about making sure we get a fashion consultant and you are right. This is going to be done right. It’'s going to be done with a sense of dignity and hopefully serve as a model that you can do this in a public sector. It'’s not going to be disruptive and we can have a public official that operates a fairly large government.

Next Steps:

KD: The next step in this process is the appeal. Then there’'s the public hearing. But more importantly, from a legal perspective and from an advocacy perspective - one of the things that Steve has drilled home from our very first conversation is, ‘"I don’'t want this to be just a technical legal appeal about Steve Stanton. I want to make sure that the education component happens. I want to make sure that we can have people there who can educate this commission so that they understand what this process is that I’'ve gone through. That this wasn’t a rushed action, something that I did all of a sudden." He really wants to make sure that the next person who goes through this will have a much better shot than he did.

How You Can Get Involved:

▪ Sign GenderPAC's petition to the Largo City Commission to express your support for Steve.

▪ Call Largo City Hall (727-587-6700) and express your support for Steve and for workplace fairness. Tell commissioners that it's not too late to stop this discriminatory move.

▪ Come to Washington D.C. on May 18th for the 12th National Gender Lobby Day and talk to lawmakers about hiring practices in their own offices and educate them on issues like workplace fairness, hate crimes, and safe schools.



The Gender Public Advocacy Coalition works to ensure that classrooms, communities, and workplaces are safe for everyone to learn, grow and succeed, whether or not they fit expectations for masculinity and femininity. To support our work to create fair workplaces, visit www.gpac.org/give.

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