Jim Toy, the longtime champion of queer rights in Michigan died on Jan. 1, leaving a legacy of fighting discrimination and harassment in many areas – including employment matters. It is a battle that continues today among people within the LGBTQ community.
He lived to age 91 and is thought to be the first Michigan resident to come out as gay. Toy’s life is a reminder to keep up the fight, especially since the LGBTQ community continues to face harassment and discrimination in workplaces.
He fought discrimination in society and workplace
Among the state and local leaders who paid tribute to Toy included Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, U.S, Rep. Debbie Dingell and University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel.
Toy’s actions and assertiveness in fighting for more than a half-century for human and civil rights leave an indelible impression in the state. For example, he:
- Lobbied and fought the University of Michigan’s Board of Regents for 21 years to change its bylaws to include non-discrimination due to sexual orientation.
- Teamed with the Michigan House of Representatives in an attempt to expand the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to also protect LGBTQ rights, including sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.
- Co-authored Ann Arbor’s non-discrimination policy.
Please remember that people like Toy paved the way for so many Michigan residents and not just the LGBTQ community. He educated and enlightened people in that human rights are a basic right and that includes in the workplace.
Stand up to workplace discrimination
Michigan’s LGBTQ community lost a pioneer who forged and sought a path of inclusion, but this path continues to require attention in areas that include workplace discrimination and harassment. If you are the victim of such actions, stand up for yourself. Turn to Jim Toy as an example.