November 1, 2019

Media Contact:
Scott L. Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412
ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Today, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball signed an Executive Order to create a LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer+) Work Group to promote the shared community values of diversity and civility. The Work Group will work with County agencies, non-profit organizations, and other community groups to facilitate an environment of inclusion, communication, understanding, and respect throughout Howard County.
“Our vision is to ensure that every person in Howard County, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, can live with dignity, be unapologetically proud, and feel totally safe in our community. Our LGBTQ+ Work Group will work to eliminate discrimination, promote inclusion, and make sure that our government supports all our residents,” said Ball. “We were so proud to hold Howard County’s first PRIDE Festival this year, and we want to continue to protect and embrace the beautiful spectrum of diversity that Howard County has to offer. To every single member of our LGBTQ+ community, know that we see you, we support you, and we stand in solidarity with you.”

“Our Office is proud to partner on this new Work Group and to continue advancing our mission of safety, equality, and the best quality of life for every single person in Howard County," said Howard County's Office of Human Rights Administrator Yolanda F. Sonnier.

“Howard County is always working to identify best practices that will make our government responsive to the needs of every community,” said Assistant Chief Administrative Officer, Janssen E. Evelyn. “Our new Work Group will help us foster a more inclusive local government that can support LGBTQ+ residents in the workplace, community, and across the County.”
The new LGBTQ+ Work Group is charged with the following:

  • Conduct quarterly meetings, open to the public, which will include the members of the Work Group, the Administrator of the Office of Human Rights and designated staff
  • Organize a series of events and facilitated discussions, in partnership with community and non-profit organizations, to provide opportunities to share concerns, promote mutual understanding and foster stronger relationships to encourage a more inclusive community.  This may include things like focus groups, facilitated dialogues, summits and additional outreach efforts
  • Advise the County Executive on best practices and strategies to further protect and promote the LGBTQ+ community
  • Work with Howard County Government employees to identify best practices to affirm members of the LGBTQ+ community
  • Ensure that all meeting minutes are made available to the public on the Office of Human Rights website
  • Submit a yearly report to the County Executive by November 1st each year about the work of the Work Group, in addition to current and emerging issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community

The Work Group will include:

  • Two representatives from PFLAG Columbia/Howard County
  • One representative from HopeWorks
  • One representative from the Howard County Human Rights Commission (HRC)
  • At least two student representatives
  • At least five representatives from the Howard County community (employee and/or resident)

In addition, Office of Human Rights Administrator Yolanda F. Sonnier will provide leadership, oversight, staffing, and logistical support. Assistant Chief Administrative Officer, Janssen E. Evelyn, shall serve as County Executive Ball’s liaison for the LGBTQ+ Work Group.

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