TSW’s Samantha Castro Recently Moderated a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Panel on LGBTQIA+ Inclusion in Planning

TSW’s Samantha (Sam) Castro, AICP, LEED ND, recently served as moderator for the Kentucky Chapter of the American Planning Association’s (APA) quarterly webinar series on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Sam, director of TSW’s Lexington office, and co-chair of the APA Kentucky DEI committee, moderated a panel of business and civic leaders in a discussion of how companies and organizations can take a more equitable and inclusive lens to the planning profession, and to how the LGBTQ+ Community is impacting planning and policy on a local level.

The panelists discussed a number of ways DEI programs can positively impact community growth and company bottom lines. For example:

  • Cities that openly strive towards inclusivity are often selected for company relocation and start-ups, both of which positively impact the local economy.
  • Working with an LGBTQ+ liaison can benefit a company’s internal practices and help grow new audiences for the business’s products and services.
  • Communities can gauge their level of inclusion, equity, and belonging by using the Municipal Equality Index. This tool demonstrates how cities can support the local LGBTQ+ community, even where states and the Federal government have failed to do so. https://www.hrc.org/resources/mei-2022-see-your-cities-scores

Some of the existing tools the panelists explored were:

  • Fairness Ordinance – legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, around housing, public accommodations and employment
  • The Crown Act – “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” is a law that prohibits race-based hair discrimination
  • Sponsoring Gay-friendly and Gay-supportive events such as Pride activities
  • Safe Place – a partnership between businesses and law enforcement agencies that allow a hate crime victim to safely shelter in place until law enforcement arrives.

In addition to TSW’s Sam Castro, panelists included Tom West, economic development director for the City of Covington, Ky., Brit Manor, LGBTQ+ liaison for the Nashville-Davidson County, Tn. Sheriff’s department, Bonnie Meyer, founder of Blue Jay Collective and co-founder and president of the Northern Kentucky Pride Center and Josh Sommer, planner III with the City of Paducah, Ky.

You can view the webinar at the following link: https://www.apaky.org/diversity-equity–inclusion.html