NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - The United States Supreme Court is reviewing a case asking for improved working rights for LGBTQ+ employees.
The topic timely, considering Oct. 11 is National Coming Out Day, used to promote diversity and inclusive treatment of all people.
“Last year marks one year that I came out as transgender non-binary," said Sarahina Borgia, an SFA employee and graduate student.
“Since coming out, I”ve been able to get top surgery, as well as start hormone treatments like on testosterone, and honest to God, it has been one of the better years that I’ve had," Borgia said.
Borgia played an instrumental role in Stephen F. Austin State University’s first-ever National Coming Out observance, which recognizes an alphabet soup of sexual identities.
“L-G-B-T-Q-I-A-A plus," Borgia recalled. "Yeah, technically the full acronym, and there’s even more after that I cannot remember.”
Borgia has participated in marches advocating fair treatment, respect, and opportunity, particularly in the workplace.
The legal question currently before the Supreme Court is whether the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s Title VII protections apply to sexual orientation and gender identity.
“When Title VII was originally instituted, it wasn’t including LGBTQ individuals, and it wasn’t meant to be attached to sexual or gender identity," Borgia said. "Yet, the counter-argument being if we talk about sexual or gender identity it is a route based on the individual’s sex.”
Borgia knows SFA is a safe place with its equal-right policies in place. Still, employment discrimination is on Borgia’s mind.
“I know as an individual, I won’t be at SFA forever, and so moving on, I can’t be guaranteed that every institution will have as great a protection in support for me as an LGBTQ individual," Borgia explained. "So, hearing these cases at the Supreme Court level has been fairly stressful.”
This week, the American Medical Association announced it stands up for LGBTQ+ rights, as well as several Fortune 500 corporations.
Support from friends, organizations, and the Nacogdoches community excites Borgia the most. Tegan Mingo, an employee with the Office of Multicultural Affairs on SFA campus, is an advocate.
“Bringing out everyone from different spectrums and moving forward is the only way we can progress more,” Mingo said.
“Also, understanding of mutual love and respect to all humans regardless of background. And that’s what I’ve always believed,” Borgia added.
The LGBTQ+ advocates commend Nacogdoches for making headway in accepting the community. They still describe the city as a rural, conservative setting with a growing number of residents willing to promote the inclusion of all individuals.