Atlanta companies take lead on trans bathrooms

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As politicians and pundits rant about transgender bathroom access, some of Atlanta's biggest companies are taking action – enacting policies allowing trans employees to use the rest room that matches their gender identity.

It's a quiet change that runs counter to the loud – and often offensive – response from conservative lawmakers, state leaders and several public school systems since the potty wars erupted in Georgia in May. As the Obama administration proposed guidelines calling for schools to allow trans students to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity, parents in Fannin County freaked, the state school superintendent promised a brawl, the state sued and lawmakers threatened a legislative response.

But despite the dustup, several Atlanta-based Fortune 500 companies have already decided the issue – long before it made headlines this spring, according to the AJC.

Home Depot, Coca-Cola, UPS, Delta Air Lines and other area Fortune 500 companies have quietly instituted policies over the past few years that allow transgender employees to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

It's some of the same companies that earn top scores on the HRC's Corporate Equality Index and battle against anti-gay “religious freedom” legislation again and again.Here's what the companies said recently about transgender access to bathrooms, according to the AJC:

“Since 2011, we have had a comprehensive policy to ensure transgender associates have the right to be who they are at work and that they can express their gender identity openly,” Coca-Cola said of its policy.

“At UPS we’re always looking to align our policies with our belief in the importance of diversity and inclusion in our workplace,” said Laura Lane, president, global public affairs and executive advisor of the ‘LGBT and Allies’ business resource group at UPS. “We thought it was important to document and share with our employees a clear policy when it comes to transgender use of restrooms.”

Said Paul Snyder, vice president of corporate responsibility for IHG, “We encourage a culture where everyone feels valued and accepted. We want to do the right things in the right way and be a supportive force for all of our colleagues.”

[photo via Sam Killermann]

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