In December 2012 a 17-year-old boy who attended Linden High School took his own life. His parents blamed bullying, and the entire community was faced with understanding the pressures of being young and gay in a world where that is not always accepted.
The youth’s suicide is what prompted Linden Mayor David Lossing to introduce a Human Rights Ordinance for the city, which passed on Sept. 9, making Linden the 28th municipality in Michigan to pass one.
Lossing did not just stop with Linden. In addition to being Mayor, he is the outgoing President of the Michigan Municipal League. At the League’s annual convention, he announced big news.
“The Board of Trustees passed a resolution to join Unity Michigan, a broad-based coalition whose goal is to advocate for the amendment of the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to add sexual orientation and gender identity as two new items in which citizens of the state of Michigan cannot be discriminated against.”
Lossing told those gathered, “Currently, citizens can be fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity. If the Governor is committed to talent attraction and retention for the state of Michigan, then we have to be welcoming to ALL new residents, regardless of their orientation and gender identity. Our State has done a horrible job of not stepping up and protecting all of our residents from any form of discrimination,” Lossing said.
Lossing describes Linden as “a small community with a population of 4,000 plus, a walkable community, great schools, a community with a ‘blue trail’ via the Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail, wonderful neighborhoods.”
“I felt it important that since the State has yet to amend the Elliot-Larsen civil rights act, that the responsibility falls to local units of government to protect all of our residents from any form of discrimination,” he said. “We had a Linden high school student who was gay and took his own life about a year ago because of being bullied for his sexual orientation. A very sad loss of life that should not have happened. So this ordinance will provide an avenue of justice that is currently not available under current state or federal law.
“It provides an avenue for justice for our residents that may have experienced discrimination. Residents and businesses alike know that we will protect our citizens. As one of our business owners said, it’s sad that we need to legislate common sense and decency, but she is very supportive of our of efforts.”
Unity Michigan is the main organization behind the city-by-city strategy to gain equal rights protections for LGBT residents. To get involved with the movement, connect through their website at www.unitymichigan.org.
Unity Michigan is the main organization behind the city-by-city strategy to gain equal rights protections for LGBT residents. To get involved with the movement, connect through their website at http://www.unitymichigan.org. You can also sign the petition at http://DontchangeYourself.com