Public Forum Saturday to Discuss Denton LGBTQ Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

City leaders in Denton will hold a public forum Saturday to talk about whether to adopt an anti-discrimination ordinance to protect the LGBTQ community. It's something five other Texas cities already have.

NBC 5 sat down with people from both sides of the debate who said they want to listen to each other face-to-face, instead of shouting at each other online.

Amber Briggle wants the best for her kids, from making their favorite meals (Friday night it's homemade mac and cheese,) to fighting for the rights of her transgender son, Max.

"What happens when he applies for his first job, is he even granted an interview because he's transgender?" Briggle said.

Now she's pushing for Denton to adopt an anti-discrimination ordinance for the LGBTQ community.

"There are no federal protections for the LGBTQ community when it comes to housing, employment or public accommodations," Briggle said. "So it's really up to the cities at the local level to push that bar forward."

On Saturday, Briggle will join four other community leaders including Paul Juarez of First Refuge Ministries for a panel discussion about that possible ordinance.

"I really want to understand," Juarez said. "I want to understand the other side."

First Refuge is a faith-based organization offering free food, medical and dental care, and counseling.

"We serve anybody and everybody," said Juarez. "There is not anybody that we don't serve."

But he questions how LGBTQ protections could affect his operations, including hiring.

"We are a faith-based organization so we want to be able to continue to serve the under-served here in Denton in the way that we want to serve them," said Juarez.

Juarez said he doesn't see eye-to-eye with advocates like Briggle, but he said, "We see heart to heart on a lot of things."

Both sides think an honest conversation will go a long way.

"When it's a one on one conversation, we understand a lot better," said Juarez. "When we're yelling at each other nobody's listening."

"We may be coming from different points of view but maybe there's something somewhere that we can agree on," Briggle added. "Even if it's just a tiny sliver of common ground, maybe we can build a bridge on that."

The forum is at 3:00 Saturday afternoon at Denton City Hall at 215 E McKinney Street. It's open to anyone to attend and ask questions.

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