On Thursday, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed into law three bills that are intended to promote the fair treatment of transgender and nonbinary city residents.
The bills, introduced by Councilwoman Helen Gym, were approved by the City Council last month, and seek to protect LGBTQ youth from discrimination, expand the definition of sexual orientation and gender identity to include additional identities, and install gender-neutral bathrooms in City Hall.
The first bill prohibits youth-serving organizations from discriminating against trans, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming youth and ensuring them equal access to time and resources.
All organizations will be required to display their trans-inclusive nondiscrimination policies in a physical location and on the organizations’ websites.
The bill also requires that those who work directly with youth undergo comprehensive sensitivity training so they know how to prevent discrimination.
The second bill requires City Hall to have at last one gender-neutral bathroom on each floor, and requires at least one gender-neutral restroom in every city-owned building.
The city will also list the locations of all such gender-neutral bathrooms so that the public is aware of them and can utilize them.
The third bill expands the definition of sexual orientation and gender identity — which are already protected under the city’s Fair Practice Ordinance — to clarify the different types of gender identities or sexual orientation that are protected by the ordinance, including specific references to nonbinary, gender-fluid, and pansexual individuals.
“The bills are a testament to the city’s continued commitment to centering the experience and safety of transgender, and gender non-conforming people,” Kenney said at the bill signing, according to KYW News Radio. “While we are proud of these achievements, we know there is much more we must build on and accomplish, and we are dedicated to meeting that challenge.”
Naiymah Sanchez, an activist who lobbied for the new protections and works with the ACLU’s Trans Justice Program, hailed the bills’ passage.
“I’m ecstatic, being a Philadelphian, being someone who went to school here and was a trans teen here,” she said. “It’s also setting a tone for the state. We currently don’t have any explicit protections statewide.”
Itzela, a nonbinary 10-year-old who also advocated for the bills’ passage, is hoping the new protections can help make life easier for other transgender and nonbinary youth.
“It makes me feel really good to know there will be more support out there for people like me,” Itzela told KYW. “Some people don’t have their families who really understand it, and it’s nice to have a place, even if it’s not at your house.”