Announces LGBT Liaison, Plans For Policy Changes
Jackson – Mayor Derek Dobies announced a proclamation earlier this month declaring June the city’s first LGBT Pride Month and made other announcements to advance the city’s outreach to the LGBT community. The move matches Jackson with national LGBT Pride Month, which has been marked by presidential proclamation since 2009.
“We’ve taken gigantic leaps over the past year in building a more tolerant and inclusive community,” said Mayor Dobies. “By recognizing Pride Month, we send a clear message that Jackson is a place that the LGBT community can call home. In June, we’ll remember the progress we’ve made, and look forward to the work we can do together to to reaffirm our belief that LGBT rights are human rights.”
Dobies also announced his plans to continue to push for fairness and inclusion for the LGBT community in hopes that Jackson can rank among the top cities supporting LGBT individuals and their families. To that end, Dobies today named resident Julia Josling as Jackson’s LGBTQ Liaison to the mayor’s office. Ann Arbor, East Lansing, Detroit and other cities in Michigan have made similar appointments in their cities.
“It’s important that the LGBT community know that they have someone they can talk to at city hall, and it’s important for the city to listen,” said Mayor Dobies. “That’s why I believe it important to create this position, and it’s why I have full faith that Julia will help make it into a very valuable resource for the city.”
Julia Josling, a transgender city resident, currently serves as the President of PFLAG Jackson and worked with Jackson Together in 2017 to help pass the city’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance. She currently works as a Social Worker for Washtenaw County Community Mental Health, and has served as a Discriminatory Harassment Counselor for the Michigan Department of Corrections. Julia holds a Master of Social Work from Walden University and is a member of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, & Therapists and the National Association of Social Workers. She lives in the 3rd Ward with her wife Andrea, and their dog Potter.
“I am honored to be given this opportunity to build upon Jackson’s burgeoning leadership on LGBTQ rights and to continue the work that Mayor Dobies and others have already started,” said Josling. “I believe my education and experience can help show others in the LGBT community that Jackson is a great place to live, work and play.”
Dobies outlined some of the functions and ambitions of the newly-created volunteer position:
– Assisting, advising, and consulting with the mayor, city manager, city council and other city officials on LGBTQ issues.
– Recommending or facilitating trainings with an experts for city employees on LGBTQ topics, including creating an inclusive workplace for LGBTQ employees.
– Meeting with business owners, community groups and individuals of the LGBTQ community to identify unique needs and solicit feedback on relevant laws, policies and services.
– Advising city government recruitment efforts that actively advertise to the LGBTQ community.
– Developing and maintaining an open, trusting relationship between the LGBTQ community and city officials, including the mayor, city manager and city council.
Dobies added that he plans to work with Josling to bring a number of ordinances to City Council during its June meetings to codify protections provided in the Non-Discrimination Ordinance in other areas of the city code, including the city’s bidding ordinance, civil service and employment ordinance, it’s fair housing ordinance, and cable franchising ordinance. He has already asked the Human Relations Commission to continue to find new ways to support the city’s outreach to the LGBT community.
In 2017, Dobies joined others on City Council in voting for the final passage of Jackson’s Non-Discrimination ordinance — making Jackson the 42nd community in Michigan with such protections. He also participated in opening up the city’s first Pride Center, and keynoted its first Pride Festival.