On May 20, Worthington City Council approved a nondiscrimination ordinance.
In doing so, Worthington became the 24th Ohio municipality to pass an ordinance that is inclusive of the LGBTQ community.
As we celebrate and recognize Pride Month, it is important to think about Worthington's journey.
Over the past year, the Worthington Community Relations Commission has advocated for approval of the ordinance, but more importantly, we have facilitated a community dialogue. That dialogue was surprising in the context of other communities but, in many ways, not at all surprising for Worthington.
Articles like this that reference LGBTQ inclusion or Pride Month regularly result in offensive and hate-filled rhetoric being fed into social-media responses. Often, discussions of a nondiscrimination ordinance bring out the same hate-filled responses at hearings and forums.
In many ways, it is ironic that the hate emphasizes the exact need for inclusion efforts like ordinances and parades.
Many nondiscrimination-ordinance efforts in other cities have been the result of a divisive incident or a climate in which division was exposed. In Worthington, the move for a nondiscrimination ordinance was unique in that it came from a long history of inclusion.
The Worthington Community Relations Commission has a long history of ensuring "fair and equal treatment for all persons." The mission dates back to its founding as a grass-roots organization in the 1960s that welcomed African American families into a community at the height of segregation and redlining.
As a city-chartered commission, the group has continued to work for inclusion and to ensure fair and equal treatment. The nondiscrimination ordinance was the next logical step for the city.
The adoption of an inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance has been a conversation in the community, not about whether it was the right or wrong thing to do, but how this ordinance was an opportunity to codify the values Worthington and its residents live by. It was a chance to send a positive message that all are welcomed and everyone is valued.
As commission members reviewed the draft ordinance with the business community, faith community, community leaders and Worthington residents, we regularly saw a collaborative environment in which the community came together to ensure the ordinance was strong and a model for other communities. The most frequent piece of feedback received was, "I am amazed we don't already have this."
All of those experiences were a lesson in why an ordinance was right for Worthington. It wasn't about the regulations or guidelines in the ordinance, but it was about sharing who we are as a community and what our values are.
So when I think of Pride Month, I share that pride is not just for the LGBTQ community but also for Worthington. For me, that pride has become intertwined. I am proud members of the LGBTQ community can live out and proud, but I also am proud they can do that here, in this place, in this community, in Worthington.
Jack Miner is a Worthington resident and chairman of the Worthington Community Relations Commission.