There is discrimination in Billings; it often goes unnoticed by those who haven't experienced it firsthand. Many of those affected will never share their stories publicly because it is not safe for them to do so.
As client service coordinator for the Yellowstone AIDS Project and PFLAG member, I work with people who suffer all kinds of discrimination.
— The gay man, new to Billings, unable to find stable housing due to discrimination, afraid to stay at the Mission, chooses to sleep in a park.
— The single mom, who lost her job, faces eviction because of rumors passed by those with a fear of someone different.
— The homeowners who struggled to get police to respond to calls to their home during a neighborhood disturbance, because they're a known gay couple.
— The woman unable to be with her partner in the hospital following an accident that left her partner in a coma.
— The man who was denied health care services because he was transgender indicates that sexual orientation or gender identity might also affect the quality of care received.
— The transgender woman who shared her fears and the discrimination she faces daily in housing, health care, employment and public services.
Stories like these should serve as a call to action. Billings needs a fully inclusive non-discrimination ordinance to protect everyone. This is not special treatment, but fairness for all. Everyone has the right to equal access to employment, housing, public accommodations and services.