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Federal policy change tops concerns at LGBTQ workplace summit at Kirkwood

Sherry Etringer of Veridian Credit Union in Waterloo talks with David Borger Germann (foreground), a pastor at Sanctuary Community Church in Iowa City, talk during a networking session at the One Iowa LGBTQ Workplace Culture Summit at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. The event featured speakers and panels that addressed topics from workplace policies that affect how those who identify as LGBTQ to exploring gender and sharing personal stories. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Sherry Etringer of Veridian Credit Union in Waterloo talks with David Borger Germann (foreground), a pastor at Sanctuary Community Church in Iowa City, talk during a networking session at the One Iowa LGBTQ Workplace Culture Summit at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. The event featured speakers and panels that addressed topics from workplace policies that affect how those who identify as LGBTQ to exploring gender and sharing personal stories. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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Worries over workplace protections came to the forefront of the second-annual LGBTQ Workplace Culture Summit Tuesday at Kirkwood Community College after reports over the weekend said the Trump administration plans to define gender as assigned at birth.

Iowa’s civil rights law grants the same protections to transgender residents as it would to other protected classes. One Iowa Executive Director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel said that, along with increasing efforts from large businesses to make their LGBTQ employees feel more welcome, puts the state in a relatively strong position of legal protection.

However, Hoffman-Zinnel pointed to a 2014 Human Right Campaign poll showing 53 percent of LGBTQ respondents don’t feel comfortable being fully out at work as an ongoing issue, particularly in smaller businesses.

That, combined with the possible federal policy, show there are still major cultural barriers to the LGBTQ community in the workplace, he said.

Hoffman-Zinnel said One Iowa would have to review any federal transgender policies to determine if it would pre-empt or interfere with state protections.

l Comments: (319) 398-8366; dan.mika@thegazette.com

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