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Government & Politics

Transgender Policy Advocate Applauds Akron's Anti-Discrimination Law

photo of Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen

Akron’s anti-defamation law is getting high praise from a nationally recognized transgender policy expert.

Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen is public education director for Freedom for All Americans, where he develops nondiscrimination messaging to build public support of transgender Americans. He was at the Akron Art Museum yesterday as part of the Akron Community Foundation's Gay Community Endowment Fund annual gathering. And he says speaking here had special significance due to the law City Council passed in March.

“If you happen to be gay or transgender in the State of Ohio, you can be fired from your job just for being gay or transgender. But here in Akron, we don’t have that problem.

“There is way too much ambiguity in the [federal] law. If you are an employer and you’re trying to hire the top, talented people – regardless of whether they’re gay or transgender or straight or whatever – you want the top talent, right? And it is unclear under federal law what your obligations are and what everyone’s rights are. And I think everyone benefits when the law is clear, and it’s simple black-and-white.”

Before Heng-Lehtinen’s speech, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan spoke briefly, saying the anti-discrimination law was something he had wanted to pass soon after being elected, and he apologized that it took a whole year.