On Wednesday, November 11, we learned that Dallas city council member Micky Garus had made disparaging and hurtful comments about transgender students’ right to use the restroom in local schools. We wrote a letter to the mayor of Dallas as well as the president of city council, to which we received a thoughtful response. While this situation continues to develop and we hope to speak more with the city council, we want to thank those who have reached out to the city council and the mayor, and encourage folks to continue urging local leaders in Dallas to take steps to address transphobia and Islamophobia in their community.
Below is the text of our letter in full:
Mayor Brian Dalton and Jim Fairchild, Council President
City of Dallas, Oregon
187 SE Court Street
Dallas, OR 97338
Dear Mayor Dalton and Council President Fairchild:
On behalf of Basic Rights Oregon, the state’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization, I am writing because I am deeply troubled by the comments from Dallas Council member Micky Garus about transgender youth and Muslims.
Transgender youth are among the most misunderstood and vulnerable young people in our state. Because of the lack of acceptance, outright discrimination and violence, more than 40 percent of transgender Oregonians will attempt suicide in their lifetimes. Councilor Garus’s comments only add to the culture of violence that many transgender youth face, particularly around bathroom use. All our youth, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, should be celebrated and loved.
As a Muslim mom, I am also deeply concerned about Councilor Garus’s comments about Muslims and his ignorant and offensive public statement. Our country was founded on the principles of religious freedom precisely because of the religious persecution so many people around the world have faced. His statement is an affront to this nation, the people of Oregon and our values as Americans.
Our history, and the history of hate around the world, has taught us that we cannot remain silent when intolerance and hate rears its ugly head. Without question, Councilor Garus is perpetuating fear and ignorance. As leaders in our state and in Dallas, I call on you to speak out against his intolerance to send a clear message to all our youth that they are born perfect, no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity, race or religion.
Co-Director, Basic Rights Oregon
C: Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum House Speaker Tina Kotek
Senate President Peter Courtney House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson
Dallas City Manager Ron Foggin