The Blue Springs Human Relations Commission has voted to support a request from Blue Springs students to fight for protected housing for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
In March of this year, two students, Natalie Tran and Shelby Norman, made an introductory presentation to the commission detailing their desire to see the Blue Springs Fair Housing regulations changed to offer protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, something it does not currently do. They left the March meeting promising to come back with a more detailed, action-oriented plan.
Tuesday night, Blue Springs South student Gavin Schaefer fulfilled this promise, appealing again to the commission to support their request and bring it to the City Council.
“How many people are staying in their homes right now, unprotected? How many can get kicked out just based on the person they love and how they identify?” he asked.
In Missouri, 3.8 percent of the population identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community, according to Schaefer, who cited a study performed by the Williams Institute, an organization at UCLA Law dedicated to conducting studies on sexual orientation and gender identity in relation to law and public policy.
“In Blue Spring there are about 54,000 people. Apply that same ratio of the population of the state of Missouri, that’s 2,088 unprotected.”
With that number in mind, Schaefer said he wondered how many residents had felt the brunt of discrimination but didn’t, or were unable to, come forward.
Chapter 265 of the Blue Springs City Code, entitled Fair Housing, grants protections on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, religious affiliation, physical handicap and whether or not a family has children. It does not protect an individual or family for their sexual orientation or gender identification.
“I think they have the dignity and the right to live within four walls and a roof,” said Schaefer.
The commission voting to support the request puts it on track to being placed in front of the City Council, which has the authority to make amendments to the city code.