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Ordinance Makes P&L Concerns Outdated
April 30, 2010

To the editor:

Some members of Kansas City’s LGBT community have voiced concerns about Pride having an event at the Power & Light District, stating that the Power & Light District has policies that are racist, homophobic and transphobic. I thought it would be helpful for everyone to know that two concerns about the Power & Light District are outdated or inaccurate.

CONCERN: The Power & Light District has a discriminatory dress code.
FACT: The dress code was changed.
The City Council changed the dress code, effective April 12, 2009, with Ordinance #090108. From a KMBC.com article about the change:
• “The new code erased many of the most severe restrictions put in place by the developer of the district, Cordish Co.”
• “Cordish’s Jon Stephens said they will be fine with the code passed by the City Council.”
• 0“Businesses cannot restrict jewelry, ethnic clothing, length of pants or shirt sleeves, hairstyle, clothing colors or plain white T-shirts.”
The Ordinance updated Chapter 38 of the City of Kansas City Code of Ordinances (available at http://cityclerk.kcmo.org) to define a “prohibited dress code:”
(27) Prohibited dress code means a set of rules governing, prohibiting or limiting access to a place or business, or portion thereof, defined herein as a “public accommodation” because of any of the following:
(a) the wearing of jewelry, the manner in which jewelry is worn or the combination of items of jewelry worn,
(b) the wearing of a garment of headdress which is generally associated with specific religions, national origins or ancestry,
(c) the length of the sleeve of a shirt or the leg of a pair of pants or shorts is too long, except that nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit a dress code that requires the wearing of a shirt,
(d) the style, cut or length of a hair style,
(e) the colors of the garments,
(f) in conjunction with a major Kansas City sporting event, the wearing of athletic apparel which displays either a number, a professional or college team name or the name of a player;
(g) the wearing of teeshirts, except that nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit a dress code that requires such teeshirts to have sleeves, or to prohibit a dress code that does not allow undershirts, undergarments, or teeshirts of an inappropriate length. Designer teeshirts, which are fitted and neat, cannot be banned.
As “public accommodations,” all businesses in the Power & Light District must follow these requirements.

CONCERN: The Power & Light District discriminates against the LGBT community.
FACT: Kansas City prohibits this.
The City of Kansas City Code of Ordinances Section 38-137(a), states:
(a) It shall be a discriminatory accommodation practice for any owner, agent or employee of any place of public accommodation, directly or indirectly, to refuse, withhold from or deny to any person any of the accommodations mentioned in this chapter or to discriminate against any person in the furnishing thereof on account of race, religion, color, ancestry, national origin, sex, marital status, familial status, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity of such person, or directly or indirectly to publish, circulate or display any written or printed communication, notice or advertisement to the effect that any of the accommodations or the facilities of such place of public accommodation will be refused, withheld from or denied to any person on account of race, religion, color, ancestry, national origin, sex, disability, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation or gender identity, or that, for such reasons, the patronage or custom of any person described in this section is unwelcome or objectionable or not acceptable to such place. (emphasis added)

If there are specific incidents at the Power & Light District where this ordinance was/is violated, it should be reported, so that the ordinance can be enforced. A complaint can be filed with Kansas City’s Human Relations Department-Civil Rights Division online at http://ww4.kcmo.org/humrel/HumRelForms.nsf/PA?OpenForm.

Michael Wood
Kansas City
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