On December 4th 2018, this letter was send to Mr. Mayor Michael Copeland of Olathe, Kansas:
“Mr. Mayor Michael Copeland,
This is to follow up on my previous email I sent to you a year ago about the Olathe Human Rights Campaign (HRC) score of 7 in 2017, which was the lowest in Kansas. I appreciate you for introducing me to the Olathe Human Relations Commission, it has being a pleasure to work with leadership of Vanessa Vaughn West and Hector Silva. I have attended almost all the monthly meeting ever since the introduction. Vanessa and Hector have always welcomed me or anyone in the public to attend the meetings.
The Olathe HRC score improved to 28 this year – what does this mean to us?
If we eliminate the high score and lowest score the average per city is 39%. The great news is that we are no longer the lowest city in Kansas.(Wichita scored 22). While this improvement is good, we can still improve.
I believed when Olathe received score of 7. Olathe ordinance did not know the importance of the survey. Now I know from personal experience that Olathe has being working hard to improve the scores and as a citizen of Olathe. I am glad that efforts are being made, but I believed this coming up year more advances can be made.
The Olathe Human Relation Commission on November 26th providedtraining on LGBTQ experience. This training was available to the public. Inoru Wade was one of the presenters. He provided person information and numbers like:
- 55,000 LGBTQ+ workers
- Gay men paid 31% less than straight men
- 68% of those polled in Kansas favor workplace protections
- In Topeka: 41% say they were abused at work
- 16% say they were denied employment
- 15% say they were fired
- 11% say they were denied a promotion
The reality is that numbers are just numbers; I am not gay, I am an ally, but by creating my company Gay Pride Bow Ties it has given me the opportunity to see how Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual and Queer people are not protected. That LGBTQ people are the least protected Americans. LGBTQTeenagers have the highest suicide rate that any other teenagers. (Lack acceptance by parents and being bullied in school). There are more LGBTQ homeless people than anyone else, they are kicked out by the parents or can’t find a job because being who they are and are not accepted by society. I can only imagine being told that wanting to love someone of the same sex is a sickness, yet we are expecting people that are being rejected by society to stand up and let us know of their issues. They are not going to do this openly – I think it our obligation to create a path were their voices can be heard. Where they will be safe to voice their opinions and where they will not fear being bullied, fired, kicked out of their homes or denied medical services. We still have more work to complete.
Per Inoru, “human beings do not simply learn from what they see, but they learn from what they don’t see. Policies should not be seen as a reflection of rules, but a reflection of community values.”
We can make a bigger difference for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Let’s continue this positive movement and create a better Olathe City for everyone.
Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you for your time.
When I create this company I did not think I would have to get involved politically. Little did I know, that would not be a true statement. It all started because HRC (Human Right Campaign) gave Olathe, KS a score of 7. What is a score made of, “HRC’s Municipal Equality Index (MEI) demonstrates the ways that many cities can (and do) support their LGBTQ community, even when states and the federal government have failed to do so” per HRC website.
I was interviewed by Sean McDowell for Fox 4 News. hI was disappointed and frustrated to be the person that was interview for the low score HRC score of 7 for the City of Olathe KS. I send email to Mr. Mayor Michael Copeland ask quick summary:
“I don’t think this is true representation of the community in Olathe, KS. My neighborhood is a very diverse that includes people of all races and backgrounds. Olathe is great place to live and everyone is welcomed. I know we are not as conservative as Wichita. Wichita has as score of 31.
Please let me know who will be or is currently working with Human Rights Campaign. It would be disappointing to know that Channel 4 Fox news did a story on how we did not take any steps to improve our score.”
The Mayor introduced me to Olathe Human Relations Commission (OHRC). They meet once a month & I have attended almost all of the meetings from November 2017. I have to give credit to Olathe Human Relations Commission for these actions:
When I started attending the meetings the OHRC did not know much about the HRC scores. That has changed. Every meeting we talk about HRC scores and what steps were taken to improve the scores.
• OHRC was introduced to Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. OHRC is now a member of Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
• The next 2 events were the first time that LGBTQ Pride Month was celebrated in Olathe, KS.
• June 24th Olathe Public Library showed the movie, “Love Simon” and had a panel discussion. The expected attendance was 20 people but 60 people showed up.
• June 28th Olathe Public Library event to meet author CJ Janovy creator of “No Place Like Home”. This event provided the opportunity for people to learn about local LGBTQ activism in Kansas.
• October 20th OHRC awarded “Olathe Human Relations Commission Humanitarian Award” to Cassandra Peters, she is the coordinator for Q-Space an LGBTQ youth center.
• November 26th OHRC provided training on LGBTQ experience. This training was made available to the public.
I am very proud of the work that OHRC has done in one year. Our city Olathe, KS needs to take the next steps to create a non-discrimination ordinance. I truly believeif the LGBTQ non-discrimination ordinance passes it will provided a voice for Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual and Queer people that are not protected today. I think it is our obligation to create a path where their voices can be heard. Where they will be safe to voice their opinions and where they will not fear being bullied, fired, kicked out of their homes or denied medical services. We still have more work to complete. I have hope that positive movement will continue and City of Olathe will continue to make changes for a better future.