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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 28, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 26
County Council confirms members of task force focused on gender identity and sexual orientation
Section One
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County Council confirms members of task force focused on gender identity and sexual orientation

SEATTLE (June 26, 2019) - The Metropolitan King County Council today confirmed the appointments of twenty community leaders to serve on a new task force that will address gender identity and sexual orientation inclusion in King County's broad spectrum of programs and services. The task force will develop a recommended countywide inclusion strategy and work plan to help ensure that all people are accurately and respectfully served.

King County is committed to eliminating inequities and promoting fairness and opportunity for all. The task force will help bring visibility to often underserved individuals by highlighting the importance of fair and equitable access to county services, improving opportunities for engagement through community outreach, and participating in important dialogue on county policies and practices.

The county legislation was sponsored by Council Chair Rod Dembowski and Councilmembers Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Dave Upthegrove, Joe McDermott, and Claudia Balducci.

The task force will engage with stakeholders and community members in an effort to spread awareness and understanding of gender-nonconforming individuals and their experience with county departments and facilities. It will review the current state of questions regarding gender identity and sexual orientation in King County processes, such as forms, interviews, and questionnaires; assess the experience of individuals accessing county services; identify processes that should be modified; and make training recommendations for county employees.

Membership of the task force includes representatives from the ACLU of WA, the Chief Seattle Club, Entre Hermanos, Gay City, Generations Aging with Pride, the Gender Justice League, the Greater Seattle Business Association, Ingersoll Gender Center, Legal Voice, the People of Color Against AIDS Network (POCAANN), the Pride Foundation, Seattle Counseling Services, the Seattle Indian Health Board, Surge Reproductive Justice, the United Territories of Pacific Islanders Alliance (UTOPIA), the King County Executive's Office, the King County Council, and the King County Human Resources Department.

'I thank the King County Council for recognizing how our community has grown and changed, and for the Council's well-thought-out response in creating this task force,' said Marsha Botzer, task force member. 'I know that together we will do much good for our community, and I appreciate the opportunity to serve with such a fine group of leaders.'

'This is important and serious work,' said Council Chair Rod Dembowski. 'It's a chance for us to learn, assess, and do better - not only to be more inclusive and responsive but to ensure that access to our systems and services are fair and just for all members of our community. This task force has an incredible opportunity to make transformative change through its recommendations in a way that will meaningfully impact people's lives in a very real way.'

'I'm excited to work with this group of talented individuals to truly make our government work for all people - regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation,' said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles. 'Access to government is something many of us take for granted. Nonetheless, too many of our neighbors and community members have historically been left out of the democratic process. This task force is an important first step in righting this wrong and working toward reversing inequities across our county's government.'

'It's worth noting that we are appointing the Gender Identity Task Force on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots,' said Councilmember Joe McDermott. 'The riots, which began the modern civil rights movement for the LGBTQ+ community, were led by drag queens, so continuing this work in this way is fitting for our past and future.'

'We have made exciting progress toward equality for the LGBTQ+ members of our community - progress that would have been almost unimaginable 50 years ago before the Stonewall uprising in New York City,' said Council Vice Chair Claudia Balducci. 'But our work is still far from complete. This task force will help us better understand the challenges facing so many in King County and help us advance toward full inclusion and equality.'

Courtesy of the King County Council

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