The Student Assembly Senate will vote on a resolution Tuesday evening supporting a proposed extension of the city of Williamsburg’s non-discrimination workforce policy. William and Larry, a student LGBTQIA advocacy group, proposed adding two statutes to the city’s policy to protect public and private sector employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
If the City Council approves the changes, Williamsburg would become the first Virginian locality to adopt a non-discrimination policy that protects both public and private sector workers from discrimination based on gender identity and expression.
Sen. Peter Quinn-Jacobs M.A. ’18 J.D. ’18, a member William and Larry, introduced the resolution last meeting.
“Making the resolution is important to show solidarity of the College to the city government,” Quinn-Jacobs said. “It would send a strong message. I know that the Graduate Council has already supported the initiative, and that the Student Assembly at large would show a cohesive push toward workplace equality.”
Quinn-Jacobs worked with Sen. Tyler Brent ’15 to present the resolution to the Senate.
William and Larry Founder Christian Bale ’14 M.P.P. ’15 believes that passing the resolution will also bring visibility to Williamsburg’s non-discrimination policy. Williamsburg’s current non-discrimination workforce policy only protects public sector employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation. The resolution adds protection from discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression.
According to Bale, finding the non-discrimination code can be difficult.
“We want visibility, and we don’t really feel like there will be opposition from the council,” Bale said. “It’s not about garnering support, but it’s more about getting people aware of the changes that we’re making and projecting it out there that Williamsburg and the College are a welcoming place to be for everybody.”
Quinn-Jacobs and Bale, members of the William and Larry committee for this initiative chaired by Emily Wavering M.P.P. ’15, presented the statutes to Williamsburg Councilman Scott Foster ’10 J.D. ’14 and Mayor Clyde Haulman. Both Quinn-Jacobs and Bale stated that they received positive and enthusiastic responses.
Foster echoed this support.
“I think making that extension would be a worthwhile change,” Foster said in an email. “The folks with William and Larry have been great to work with so I am optimistic about the success of this initiative moving forward.”
The process to draft the statutes required extensive research and communication with two other Virginia localities that have passed similar policies.
Enforcing the non-discrimination policy in the private sector may be difficult, so William and Larry researched similar non-discrimination policies in Virginia and plan to meet with the city attorney and city manager after concluding the group’s research to further discuss the statutes and their legal implications.
Moreover, representatives from William and Larry met with the General Assembly earlier this year to ensure that the proposed additions to the non-discrimination policy would be legal under Virginia law.
“This might be [going] on into the summer,” Bale said. “We wanted it to be finalized by the end of the year, but by the time we were finished with our research, it was already mid-April. We just want to make sure this is done correctly.”
Last year, William and Larry worked with the College administration to change the College’s non-discrimination policy to include protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.