Local High School Students Inspire Legislation

Middleton – Inspired by a local high school student organization seeking a fair workplace, Senator Jon Erpenbach(D-Middleton) and Representative Diane Hesselbein(D-Middleton) have introduced a bill to add “gender identity” to Wisconsin’s Fair Employment Law.


“Wisconsin was a leader in our Fair Employment Law and we are seeking to bring some of that leadership back by prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity. Businesses want to attract and retain great employees and this change will help them and truly reflects the future of employment in Wisconsin,” said Senator Erpenbach.


The Fair Employment Law prohibits discrimination in: recruitment and hiring, job assignments, pay, leave or benefits, promotion, licensing or union membership, training, layoff and firing and other employment related actions. The bill would add “gender identity” to the list of other reasons someone cannot be discriminated against which currently includes status like military service, pregnancy, age, race and sexual orientation. The bill request was made by the Middleton High School’s Sexuality and Gender Equality (SAGE) club.


“It is an inspiration that so many high school students are placing themselves in the public policy process. Their energy and voice are valued. It is our job as policymakers to listen and to act on their behalf. This generation knows that social movement can change the world and we are proud of their work,” said Representative Hesselbein.


Republicans control the Legislature and have demonstrated they are interested in moving the opposite direction with the repeal of the Equal Pay Enforcement Act early in their one party control of the Legislative and Executive branch.


“We have a vision for Wisconsin and thoughtful high school students are helping shape it. That should make all of Wisconsin hopeful about our future,” said Erpenbach.