When the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) was defeated at the ballot box in 2015, it felt shocking to many people. Houston is the most diverse city in the nation, it is a city that 3 times elected an openly gay Mayor and is constantly receiving praise for its inclusiveness. The loss of HERO was not the first time that equality was dealt a blow at the ballot box here in Houston. In 1985, and in 2001 similar losses at the ballot box left the LGBTQ community without protections against discrimination in the Bayou City.
In the aftermath of HERO's loss, conversations were had with individuals who had voted in favor of and in opposition to the ordinance. What those discussion revealed was that many people who would have benefited from a local nondiscrimination law voted against the law as a result of the campaign of lies and misinformation that was launched by opponents of equal rights. Many people have said if they knew then what they know now, they would have voted to support the law.
Conversations are crucial to changing hearts and minds and that is why Transform Houston is launching our transgender prejudice reduction canvass program, based on the ground-breaking work created at the Los Angeles Leadership LAB.
Our goal is to engage hundreds of volunteers and have thousands of conversations with Houstonians about why updating our nondiscrimination laws to include gay and transgender people is so important.
But more than that, we will be working to emphasize our shared values as Houstonians, and to dismantle the lies and misinformation that were spread on radio, television and in person by opponents of HERO.
We will be working to increase familiarity with transgender and gender nonconforming people and helping Houstonians better understand why no one should face discrimination at work, in a public space, or while simply trying to use the restroom.
In order to accomplish our goal of transforming Houston we need as many volunteers as possible to take part in these conversations and that's where you come in. Sign-up to volunteer and attend a training and canvass. Face-to-face conversations are the best way for us to address concerns people might have and provide them with facts and share our personal stories about why nondiscrimination protections are important.