Montgomery County Council considering LGBTQ bill that would protect against discrimination in health care

LGBTQ bill would protect against discrimination in health care

Glass spearheads proposal to expand county’s anti-discrimination law to gender expression, HIV status

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Evan Glass

Montgomery County Council Member Evan Glass spearheaded legislation that would extend the county's anti-discrimination law to cover gender expression or HIV status in health care settings.

Photo from Montgomery County

The Montgomery County Council is considering a bill to extend the county’s anti-discrimination law to cover gender expression or HIV status in health care settings.

The proposed LGBTQ Bill of Rights, introduced at Tuesday’s council meeting, would expand the current anti-discrimination law to prohibit medical and health care providers from denying service based on a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, HIV status and gender expression at nursing homes, personal care facilities and health care facilities.

Council Member Evan Glass, who spearheaded the legislation, said many residents in the LGBTQ community recently told him that they have had problems with health care access.

“It would also allow patients to be assigned a room at a health care facility or nursing home based on that individual’s gender identity,” Glass, the county’s first openly gay County Council member, said at the meeting. “This legislation would remove ambiguity from the current code by making it clear that persistent and deliberate misuse of one’s pronouns in our health care facilities is discrimination.”

The bill was modeled after the LGBTQ Senior Bill of Rights legislation introduced in the Maryland General Assembly this year.

“At its core, these changes in our code will help ensure that all members of the LGBTQ+ community, particularly our elders and members of the transgender community, receive full and equal treatment under the law, so they can live their lives as they truly are, without fear or harm,” Glass said.

A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on July 28.

All of the council members thanked Glass for spearheading the legislation and said it was important to provide support to the LGBTQ community.

Council Member Craig Rice said the bill is important for children in the community who are shown that who they choose to love or how they identify has “nothing to do with their future.”

“By having adults that continue to lead the way in terms of showcasing that we are truly a welcoming community like we say we are, but we actually ‘walk the walk and not just talk the talk’ matters tremendously,” he said.

Council Member Hans Riemer said he would like to see the state pass similar legislation.

“We have a long way to go,” he said. “I know that people who identify as LGBTQ+ face a lot of challenges and face a lot of headwinds in our community and society. Anything we can do to support them and provide rights, establish rights, and clarify that we’re in their corner.”

The county can always become a more welcoming place, Council Member Nancy Navarro said.

“There are so many things you kind of take for granted and you just think they’re happening, but they aren’t,” she said. “It has such implications to our community, to our residents, to our young people.”

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.

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