I was talking to you the other day about the progress of the initiative to protect LGBTQ people in Michigan’s Civil Rights Act, and we had seen the example of a lesbian teacher who was discriminated against in her job, which fortunately gained cause.
Sadly today here is another example of discrimination and harassment suffered by two lesbians at work in the same state.
Michelle Wood, 56, was an officer at the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer, Michigan, where her partner, Loretta Smith, 53, was transferred in 2015.
Both have embarked on a legal battle to get a recognition of the discrimination, harassment, and mistreatment based on their sexual orientation that they suffered there.
“It was pretty dark, and he was creeping around between the vehicles,” she said of the co-worker. “When my partner was trying to back up, he just jumped right there and scared both of us.”
After she officially reported the harassment to the Michigan Department of Corrections, her coworkers wanted revenge.
She says she was repeatedly ticked for minor infractions allegedly in violation of the rules and investigated for suspected sexual intercourse with a male inmate when it was common knowledge that she was a lesbian.
The penitentiary administration tried to get her to resign, but it didn’t work. After 26 years of work and many stress-related sick days, Wood opted for early retirement. There’s no way she’s going to admit that her stalkers are right.
It’s sad to see a woman who was thriving in her career come to this point.
“We’re people, we’re human beings,” pleads Wood. “We just happen to be in a lesbian relationship. We have the same feelings and the same emotions as everyone else. I just would like to see them extend the law to cover us as a protected group.”
Today, the two women, victims of the same discrimination, are filing a complaint against the Michigan Department of Corrections in the Wayne County Circuit Court.
“Our household has suffered greatly,” Wood said. “It’s very difficult to turn that on and turn off when you get home.”
They’re both intend to draw attention to what they’ve been through, also to push for Michigan’s LGBTQ protection initiative.
I wish them success as well.
Photo courtesy of Michelle and Loretta