Athens unanimously passes LGBTQ non-discrimination ordinance

ATHENS, WV (WOAY) – On Tuesday night, the Town of Athens became the 13th West Virginia town to adopt a local LGBTQ fairness law.

This now makes it illegal to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Although it was just passed on Tuesday, the movement for an LGBTQ ordinance in Athens started six years ago when local resident Paul Hodges was at a meeting at Concord University about similar ordinances that had passed throughout the state. 

“And one of the students stood up and said, ‘Athens, West Virginia would never do that,’ implying that we were backwards, country, wouldn’t do anything like that,” Hodges said. “So that got me interested, and I came up to the council. I knew our town was a lot better than that. I knew our town and our town council was a lot better than that, and so at that time, the council six years ago passed a resolution.” 

Back then, the resolution did not carry the weight of law, so Hodges kept pushing and with the help, support, and heavy turnout from Concord University students, faculty and staff, a law will now be put on the books. 

Concord’s Dean of Students Dr. Sarah Beasley said that the university passed their own resolution last year but wanted to also show their support for the town’s ordinance as well.

“These kinds of opportunities where the town and the university work together just show what we can do when we do work together to create a more inclusive, not only town, but campus environment,” she said. “What’s good for Concord is good for Athens and vice versa, and I think a lot of people recognize that.” 

Both Hodges and those with the university said they have not received backlash from any of the residents or members of the university. 

“It sends a statement that Athens is an open and welcoming community,” Hodges said. “It sends a statement for students of Concord that they’re welcome in this town, and it is just the right thing to do.” 

Concord University President Kendra Boggess made the following statement: 

“The passage of this non-discrimination ordinance in Athens is wonderful for our students, faculty, and staff. Not only is Concord University an inclusive environment for all people, but so is the town around them.”

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Anna Saunders
Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.