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Montgomery Council to Consider Adding Anti-Discrimination Protections for Gender, Health Care

Gender expression and HIV status aren’t currently included in Montgomery County’s anti-discrimination laws, but County Council members are hoping to change that.

A bill introduced by Councilman Evan Glass (D) would add HIV status and gender expression to the county’s anti-discrimination laws, and would also prohibit certain practices in nursing homes and other healthcare and personal care facilities, such as refusing to assign a room according to someone’s correct gender or deliberately using incorrect pronouns.

“Montgomery County residents deserve the right to live their lives as they are, without fear or harm,” Glass said during a Tuesday afternoon virtual county council meeting.

The bill has universal support among council members, with all listed as co-sponsors.

The legislation specifically prohibits healthcare or personal care facilities from taking certain actions based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or HIV status. Those include denying admission, refusing to allow an individual access to a restroom based on the person’s gender identity and denying medical or nonmedical care.

Council members say the legislation will encourage everyone in the community to seek healthcare when they need it.

“It’s imperative from a public health standpoint that everyone feels comfortable accessing healthcare,” Councilman Gabriel Albornoz (D) said.

The legislation comes a month after a federal rule removed certain non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in healthcare. NPR reported that, under the new rule, a transgender person could be refused a checkup at the doctor’s office.

According to the American Heart Association, discrimination can prevent LGBTQ people from accessing healthcare when they need it.

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