In a move to continue Buncombe County’s commitment toward its 2025 Strategic Plan goal of increasing equity, the Board of Commissioners introduced an ordinance aimed at strengthening discrimination laws. While there was no vote during the March 16 meeting, Commissioners discussed the ordinance that would prevent people from being barred from employment and public services based on race, natural hair or hairstyles, ethnicity, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or ancestry, marital or familial status, pregnancy, veteran status, religious belief or non-belief, age, or disability.
Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara noted it would go above and beyond discrimination measures provided by the federal government. “It would create new protections for people from communities that are historically and currently vulnerable and would create ways for people to address they’ve been discriminated against,” explained Commissioner Beach-Ferrara, citing it would “send a powerful message to LGBTQ youth.”
What does equity mean?
Buncombe County defines equity as creating a culture where we illuminate disparities and ensure just and fair inclusion where all can participate and prosper. The Board of Commissioners, via its work on the 2025 Strategic Plan, define equity as systems, policies, and practices that support equity for all people, and an organizational culture that embraces diversity and inclusion.
Commissioners have directed staff to research best practices for enforcing the discrimination ordinance via civil, not criminal, methods. The ordinance will be voted on when Commissioners meet Tuesday, April 6. If approved, the ordinance would go into effect on July 1.