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Curran signs order creating gender inclusivity commission

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran speaks at a

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran speaks at a press conference during a live tree burn to demonstrate the dangers of holiday decorations at the Nassau County Fire Service Academy in Old Bethpage on Tuesday November 30, 2021. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

In one of her last acts as Nassau County executive, Laura Curran has signed an executive order creating a committee to study whether current county laws promote gender inclusivity.

The concept of gender inclusivity means not discriminating against a particular sex, gender identity or social gender, according to the United Nations' definition of the term.

Curran signed the order on Thursday, creating the panel to review the county's charter, administrative code and other regulations, to "ensure that the county’s goals of gender inclusivity are met."

The committee must provide a full report to the county executive, who would select nine members to serve on it, including a chairman.

Republican Bruce Blakeman, who defeated Curran in November, becomes county executive at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

In a statement, Blakeman said Curran, a Democrat, was resorting to "political tricks" with her last-minute order. He later confirmed through a spokesman that he will not start the committee.

"Laura Curran had four years to create this committee yet did it upon leaving office as a way to create headlines," Blakeman said. "Rather than disrespect the LGBTQ community by using political tricks, this administration will respect the community by placing important stakeholders on the Human Rights Committee."

Blakeman referenced the county's 15-member human rights commission chaired by Bobby Kalotee.

The group is tasked with "improving relations and ensuring equality of opportunity in Nassau County, and to eliminate discrimination in employment, housing, places of public accommodation and education."

For years, Democratic lawmakers have attempted to add "gender identity" to the list of protected classes under Nassau County's human rights law. The list includes sexual orientation, religion, race and many other classes.

Republican lawmakers have said they believed gender identity protections are included in state laws.

In 2019, county legislators added veteran and first responder statuses to the list of protected classes under the county law.

David Kilmnick, chief executive of the LGBT Network in Hauppauge, praised Curran's order. In an email to Newsday, he said: "Curran is going out the way she came in by ensuring that all Nassau families are represented and I am truly grateful for that. Because of her leadership, Nassau has made monumental strides for the LGBTQ community and we are hopeful that will continue with the next administration."

Legis. Arnold Drucker (D-Plainview) said in a statement, "Across our nation, members of the transgender community continue to endure elevated levels of poverty, housing discrimination, workplace bias and a risk of suicide and mental health challenges. They are the victims of fatal violence with infuriating frequency. The breadth of the challenges they face are deserving of the focus of a dedicated advisory committee and enshrining county-level protections focused on gender identity in our Human Rights Law."

He continued: "County Executive-elect Blakeman has spoken frequently of his desire to aid Nassau residents from all walks of life. Following through on the formation of this committee would put the power of action behind his words and bring us one step closer to fulfilling the promise of 'liberty and justice for all’."

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