SF supervisors update discrimination codes

  • by Eric Burkett, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday November 30, 2022
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San Francisco Human Rights Commission staff member Jude Diebold spoke at the Board of Supervisors rules committee meeting November 14. Photo: Screengrab
San Francisco Human Rights Commission staff member Jude Diebold spoke at the Board of Supervisors rules committee meeting November 14. Photo: Screengrab

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved changes to the city's administrative code, updating definitions of prohibited discrimination in contracting ordinances.

Sponsored by Mayor London Breed and gay Supervisors Rafael Mandelman (District 8) and Matt Dorsey (District 6), the proposal passed the rules committee on November 14 with no comments from the public. The ordinance is expected to have a second and final vote December 6.

The changes had been proposed to clarify some outdated definitions in Chapters 12B and 12C of the administrative code, dealing with contracts, including property contracts, that the city enters into. In addition to revising the definitions of gender identity, sex, and sexual orientation, the term gender expression was added and the definition of age was also revised in Chapter 12A, which is the Human Rights Commission ordinance.

Jude Diebold, with the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, told the rules committee two weeks ago that they had gathered input from a variety of sources, including the commission's LGBTQ advisory bodies.

In an email to the Bay Area Reporter November 29, Diebold elaborated on why the changes are needed.

"The admin code Chapters 12A, 12B, and 12C govern the HRC Civil Rights Division's work, and provide definitions to clarify terms," Diebold wrote. "The definitions both have a functional purpose (to protect against discrimination) and symbolic meaning. The Civil Rights Division identified several definitions that were out of date and problematic and developed the proposals to update them."

For example, Diebold pointed to the current definition for gender identity: "a person's various individual attributes as they are understood to be masculine and/or feminine," which is binary.

Under the proposal passed by the supervisors, "gender identity" shall mean how a person self-identifies their gender or their internal understanding of their gender. "A person's gender identity may or may not correspond with social norms or stereotypes related to the sex they were assigned at birth," the definition states. "There are many terms related to gender with which a person may identify, including but not limited to: agender; androgynous; bigender; cisgender; cisgender man; cisgender woman; gender fluid; gender non-conforming; gender-expansive; genderqueer, non-binary, pangender, Two-Spirit, transgender, trans, transgender man, transgender woman, masculine, feminine. One's gender identity may also be described through any number of ever-expanding terms or definitions, and one's gender identity may be subject to change by the individual."

Under the definition of "sex," the old definition was also "purely binary," as HRC staff member Matthew Oglander noted in an email.

Under the new ordinance, sex is defined as "one's anatomical, physiological, genetic, or physical attributes, and the variation in these attributes that may or may not indicate male, female, or a different sex such as intersex."

The changes also update the age cap which, while based upon earlier state and federal laws, have since been eliminated at both those levels. Disability, too, is now more broadly defined to match state definitions, which are more broad than those of the federal government.

Dorsey had told the B.A.R. he was pleased the item, which was first proposed earlier this year, got a hearing.

"The updated language in our municipal code reflects a more enlightened take on gender identity and sexual orientation, which I think is more worthy of San Francisco's inclusive values." he said. "Language updates that pertain to age and disability status are really about harmonizing local provisions with their state and federal counterparts."

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