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Powerful video shows a 12-year-old boy asking why there’s no law to protect his lesbian mothers from discrimination

Reiss Smith September 3, 2019
Jak Guimbellot and his mother Kate.

Jak Guimbellot and his mother Kate. (The Kansas City Star)

A 12-year-old boy was forced to ask his local city council a devastating question: why does it have no laws to protect his lesbian mothers?

Olathe, Kansas is the site of a years-long fight for LGBT+ rights, with the local community frustrated by the council’s slow progress on anti-discrimination laws.

Now, a 12-year-old boy has joined the fight, standing up for the rights of his same-sex parents at a recent council meeting.

Accompanied by one of his mothers, Jak Guimbellot said to the council: “I just don’t understand why if I’m with my mothers and we decide to go to a restaurant to eat, that we can be denied access and have to eat somewhere else.”

Speaking to The Kansas City Star, 12-year-old Jak explained that he had been pondering the question for a while.

“I don’t understand why my parents and I can be denied access to an apartment [because they’re lesbian] or why they can be fired from a job,” he said.

“I also said that in school we’re taught to treat everyone equally and that everyone is amazing and special, but then there’s grown adults here who don’t understand that they’re not treating everyone equally.”

Olathe, Kansas lags behind neighbouring cities.

Jak’s mother Kate Guimbellot said that she and her family have watched by as neighbouring cities introduce LGBT+ protections without any hesitation.

“Someone walked into Leawood and said, ‘As a citizen I’d love to see this go on the docket.’ A month later it was there and read to the entire community and voted on and passed. It’s not been a two-and-a-half-year battle.”

I don’t care for my son to hear that I’m a deviant or a paedophile

Kate said that she and her wife were reluctant to let Jak attend the city council meeting because of the “horrific slurs that are projected towards the LGBTQ community”.

“I don’t care for my son to hear those things said about me, that I’m a deviant or a paedophile,” she said.

“But at some point, I finally said he has a right to go ask this question.”

LGBT+ rights fight began in 2016.

A group of LGBT+ advocates first approached Olathe City Council in late 2016 about banning discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

After two years of discussions, the city’s human rights commission agreed legislation was needed, and put in a formal recommendation in January 2019.

The city’s mayor Michael Copeland has said that staff are looking into the issue.

“We will not simply create an ordinance without the capacity to fairly investigate claims and a process to fairly adjudicate them,” he said in a statement to The Kansas City Star.

“Among other issues, we need to understand what capacity is required, including staffing, training, and cost. We need to understand how long it would take to have that capacity in place and attempt to understand the difference it will make for the community. There is not a cookie-cutter approach that necessarily fits Olathe.”

Brett Hoedl, an Olathe resident who has a 13-year-old gay son, believes that the city is stalling, pointing to the fact that there is a municipal court system which could adjudicate any new laws.

“To say we don’t have the capacity strikes me as a lack of leadership and willingness to do it,” he told the Star.

More: anti-discrimination bill, Kansas, lesbian mothers

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