Shawnee will discuss possible non-discrimination ordinance at August council meeting

The city of Shawnee will become the next northeast Johnson County municipality to discuss a possible non-discrimination ordinance offering legal protections for LGTBQ+ individuals.

Councilmembers Stephanie Meyer and Lisa Larson-Bunnell made posts on Twitter last week noting that discussion of an NDO would be coming on an August agenda.

City Manager Nolan Sunderman has confirmed that the council’s August 13 council committee of the whole meeting will include the first official discussion among the governing body about the possibility of adopting an NDO. If there’s enough interest from members of the council in exploring the idea, the council may direct staff to draft possible ordinance language for consideration at a future meeting.

The possibility of adding a city level ordinance on discrimination issues in Shawnee has prompted one local political group to urge its members to speak up. A post on the Northwest Johnson County Republicans’ Facebook page categorized the presence of the issue on a meeting agenda as the city council “cav[ing] to pressure from LGBTQ+ Activists.” The group is asking members to attend the Aug. 13 meeting to voice their objections, and says that such laws pose a threat to religious liberty.

“This ordinance will be used to undermine religious freedom in Shawnee, and your voice is needed to stop it,” reads the post. “The measure is similar to laws in other states that have been used to punish business owners (such as bakers and florists) who decline to participate in same-sex weddings…Shawnee is already a kind and welcoming place. We don’t need a resolution or an ordinance to tell us to treat each other well.”

The idea of Shawnee adopting a non-discrimination ordinance was among the topics the candidates running for Shawnee mayor and city council addressed in our candidate questionnaires last week.

Roeland Park became the first city in the Shawnee Mission area to adopt a non-discrimination ordinance back in 2014. Since then, six additional northeast Johnson County cities have adopted NDOs (Mission Hills most recently) and the city of Westwood currently has an ordinance under consideration.

Shawnee would be the largest city in the area thus far to adopt an NDO.