On November 3, 2015, Houston voters rejected Proposition 1, a broadly-worded human rights ordinance that would have made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of, among other things, gender identity. Opposition to that ordinance coalesced around the issue of restrooms, with many citizens expressing fear that the law would allow men to use women’s restrooms.
Although the notion of transgender individuals using public restrooms remains a lightning rod for controversy in many places, for some time now employers have had to find practical solutions to this issue. To date, more than 220 cities and municipalities (including Phoenix, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, Denver, Dallas, Washington D.C., Miami, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston and Detroit) have enacted ordinances which prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on both sexual orientation and gender identity, and eighteen states (Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Hawaii and Maryland) have amended their anti-discrimination laws to confer those same protections. Moreover, President Obama signed an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.