Casper Council Member Talks About Better Understanding LGBTQ Community
At the end of the Casper City Council meeting on Tuesday, council member Bruce Knell talked about the recent LGBTQ advisory committee meeting he had gone to, and how it opened his eyes to the issues that community deals with.
"It was actually very eye opening and enlightening for me. I guess I've never paid a lot of attention to that demographic if you will, and I was more interested in what are they really going through, what is different. They are ostracized and they're not treated well, for no other reason just being who they are...So for those of you out there who used to be like me and don't pay any attention to that, these are human beings who just happen to to have differences then maybe the mainstream I guess if you will, and they have every right to be free and to be cared for and to not be abused and mistreated and a lot of that is going on here. A lot of it has to do with our great state of Wyoming. We're very red here, we're also very redneck, and I used to be one of those as well, but my eyes have been opened, so I guess my point I'm trying to make is, it would behoove you to go to one of those meetings and really find out what these human beings are going through. It will certainly enlighten you and help change your mind, so it did me."
Kody Allen-Sambrano, one of the members of the advisory committee, said he was glad that someone like Knell had come to them to learn about the struggles that the LGBTQ community deals with.
"That council member Knell, who might not necessarily share our views or our lifestyles, but he took the time to come and sit with us, and talk with us, and he seems very genuine. Hopefully community members that maybe have the same political ideologies as council member Knell does will follow in his footsteps and just have conversations with members of the LGBTQ community and see that we're not asking for anything special, we're just asking to feel safe in our own homes and have the same rights as everyone else."
Darrell Wagner, another committee member, said while there was still some disagreement between Knell and committee members on things like gender neutral bathrooms, on the whole there was still general agreement that there are problems faced by the LGBTQ community that need addressed.
Allen-Sambrano said that he has dealt with discrimination in Casper, from him and his husband getting denied housing nine months ago, to being discriminated against at a restaurant in town.
Wagner said when this was mentioned, Knell was surprised that something like housing discrimination could happen.
"When we're sitting after our meeting, and Kody told his story to Bruce in detail, and Bruce's response 'well that's silly, isn't that illegal?' and we all kind of chuckled and said no, it's not. That's the point. You would think it should be, and it's not, and that's what we're pushing for, and I think that was a lightbulb moment for Bruce."
The advisory committee has been working on drafting ordinances to present to council to help improve the relationship between the general population of Casper and the LGBTQ community.
Allen-Sambrano said Knell offered some recommendations for what the committee can do to get their legislation moving in the right direction.
Wagner said they hope the momentum they have built around the committee will help push for the ordinance changes they plan on presenting to council.