WSJ Headlines signal positive changes for Winston-Salem’s LGBTQ community. (Photo Credit: Facebook)

Winston-Salem unanimously passed a nondiscrimination ordinance (NDO) August 16, making it the most recent North Carolina city since Charlotte to adopt a policy to protect LGBTQ residents in areas of employment and public accommodations. The NDO also provides protection against discrimination for those wearing natural hair styles that reflect cultural significance.   

The Winston-Salem Nondiscrimination Ordinance Coalition (WSNDOC) is continuing with a program of acknowledgment for LGBTQ businesses and groups in the city for area residents. Dubbed “inclusivity highlights,” the Facebook posts are used to tag businesses that support the NDO, such as the local convention and visitors bureau Visit Winston-Salem and Mast General Store, a historic retail department store originally established in 1883. 

Organizers from the Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce expressed their elation at the legislative win, emphasizing that the NDO is a nonpartisan issue that affects all North Carolinians, regardless of political affiliation. 

WSNDOC representative Chris Smith confirms the ordinance fulfills the purpose of their organization and brings to fruition the work they have been doing in the past twelve months. In addition to the protection against discrimination the ordinance provides, the City Council of Winston-Salem has pledged to hire two new employees: one who will be responsible for community outreach regarding the ordinance and another will conduct investigations and function as a mediator. 

“This is such a big win for Winston-Salem,” says Smith. “Protections now extend to everyone regardless of their race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, protected hairstyles, pregnancy, disability, age, veteran status, marital status, familial status or political affiliation

“Many people [don’t] realize just how expansive this new ordinance is.”

Fellow NDO Coalition member Jake Gellar-Goad is hopeful about future change throughout the state. “My hope [is] that queer communities across the state will feel empowered by these local victories and shielded by these nondiscrimination protections, [so] they can take the next steps of advocating for LGBTQ inclusion, competency and awareness in the schools and shelters [in the] communities they live in.”

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