On Aug. 14, the Stevens Point Public Protection Committee met to discuss, not only a change in the housing law, but a change in many people’s lives.
Robert Steinke, a Plover resident, brought the request of having specific protection be added to the housing laws to better defend transgender individuals. The change had no objections and became official on Aug. 21, 2017.
According to The National Center for Transgender Equality when in search of housing, one in five transgender persons is discriminated against. If housing is found, one in 10 of these persons is then evicted and forced to go through the process again. Because of this, it is thought that up to 40 percent of the homeless youth are LGBTQIA+.
After quoting the 14th amendment, Alderperson Mary Kneebone said, “I wholeheartedly support this change in our ordinance to make Stevens Point even more inclusive.”
City Attorney Andrew Beveridge, supported the change as well by saying “…few words can have a large impact…” when it comes to equality, and the ability of Stevens Point to become an example for others.
The city housing ordinances could first be read as the following, “…all persons, regardless of race, color, religion, gender, ancestry, national origin, handicap, age, lawful source of income, families with children, gender or marital status of the person maintaining the household or sexual orientation, are entitled to fair and equal access to housing…”.
However, the phrase “gender identity or gender expression” has since been added. This addition is thought to provide more clarity to the statement.
The University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point has also helped provide a safe space and a feeling of inclusivity for those who identify as LGBTQIA+. On the second floor of Smith, Steiner and Watson residence halls you will find “all-gender” restrooms, allowing anyone to use the facility. In addition, according to the Residential Living Handbook of UWSP, there is the option of gender inclusive housing. This housing option allows for opposite-gender roommates, as well as other gender-identity pairings regardless of physical characteristics.
Just as the City of Stevens Point, the UWSP gender-inclusive housing committee works diligently to provide an atmosphere fit for all students. A statement from their webpage through UWSP reads, “This is an ongoing process and our halls/policies will continue to be analyzed as new laws needs and information come forward.”