Friday, May 27, 2011

Appleton Diversity Coordinator Pushes Council to Use Tax Dollars for Businesses to Prove They’re LGBT Friendly

The city of Appleton, WI has a full-time Diversity Coordinator located in the Mayor’s office.  According to the city’s website, “This position was established in 1997 by the Appleton Police Department to proactively address issues in the community that affected culturally diverse populations.”

However this program now goes beyond “cultural” diversity to additionally focus on sexual preference and using tax dollars in the process.

The Appleton Common Council’s Community & Economic Development Committee received a proposal from Kathy Flores, Appleton’s Diversity Coordinator, during their April 25th Committee meeting.  Her proposal was to adopt a “Welcome + Inclusive Campaign” for Downtown Appleton in hopes that “all diversity groups feel welcome to the City of Appleton”.  Flores is seeking to market and brand Appleton “as supportive of diversity”. They will seek to get downtown businesses, organizations, churches and schools to support their effort and those that indicate they will sign a pledge will receive a window cling to display.  The proposal is that these window clings will be paid for in part by taxpayer dollars.

In their proposal they indicated the Buying Power of various ethnic groups including Hispanic, African American, Native America, and Asian American.  They also presented the buying power of Lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgenders which they say is “expected to hit $2 Trillion by 2012”.  They also site, “Gay consumers can be very loyal to specific brands, wishing to support companies that support the gay community and also provide equal rights for LGBT workers.”

Those businesses that sign the pledge not only get the window cling, but “The Diversity Coordinator will work with local Human Resource departments as they recruit and retain diverse employees.

Their proposal to Alderman also included a sheet that described what Businesses and Organizations can do to foster a “Welcome + Inclusive Environment”.  In their suggestions, they suggest that businesses, churches, schools and organizations “use inclusive language when advertising.  Instead of ‘husband/wife’, use ‘partner or significant other’.  They also encourage that these groups have a gender option bathroom that includes ‘unisex’.  Further they encourage businesses, churches & schools to “hire diverse staff”.  (Emphasis added)  The full proposal can be read here .

At the end of discussion the Committee voted to send this back to the staff for more work.  However this issue will come back again before the Committee.  The Community and Economic Development Committee will meet next on June 6th and again on June 20th.  Should this pass out of Committee it would go before the full Appleton Common Council.  To express your views you may contact the Committee members below as well as to your own Alderman.

Members of this Committee include:
Peter Stueck, Chair – (920) 735-1888
James Clemons, Vice-Chair – (920) 749-9298
Jeffrey Jirschele – (920) 739-9532
Cathy Spears – (920) 730-1091
Christoph Wahl – (920) 731-2170

Or, you may leave a message for the Committee by calling the City Clerk at (920) 832-6447.  For additional contact information including email, click here .