Westwood Hills city council adopts non-discrimination ordinance with protections for sexual orientation, gender identity

The city of Westwood Hills this week became the sixth city in the Shawnee Mission area to enact a non-discrimination ordinance with legal protections for LGBTQ+ residents and employees.

The city council on Monday approved an ordinance that makes it a violation to, “discriminate against individuals in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, age, disability, marital status, familial status or military status,” according to a release from the city.

“The goal of the council is to contribute to the creation of a diverse, welcoming community that promotes harmony and mutual respect,” reads the release. “While the ordinance provides for civil penalties, it also allows the city to suspend or revoke city-issued business licenses, including rental property licenses, if a violation of employment or public accommodations or housing provisions of the ordinance is found.”

Westwood Hills, which has just under 400 residents, includes the strip of retail shops at 50th Street and State Line Road that employ a number of individuals. The city council has been deliberating over the ordinance for a matter of months.

Mission Woods, the smallest city in Johnson County with around 200 residents, passed its own non-discrimination ordinance in March.

Roeland Park was the first in the area to pass such an ordinance back in 2014. Prairie Village, Mission and Merriam all approved NDOs within the past year. And Mission Hills’ city council has been considering language for an NDO over the past few months.

Overland Park and Lenexa officials have discussed approaches to address the issue in recent months as well, but both cities’ governing bodies have decided to hold off on advancing city level ordinances while they observe how the issue plays out at the state and federal level, saying city-level protections may not be necessary if a superseding jurisdiction enacts protections.

CORRECTION: The originally published version of this story did not account for Mission Woods having passed an NDO in March. The copy has been updated to reflect the fact that Mission Woods has an NDO on the books.