I am Riya Suising and I am working with Equality Virginia to raise awareness about my recent experience of discrimination at Spa World in Centreville, VA, a business only 27 miles from our nation's capital. I was asked to leave by the management and other customers based not any inappropriate behavior, but simply by my appearance to them. Spa World's original response on their policy, now being revised due to public outrage, was a clear example of strong prejudice against the LGBT community.
While this incident has gathered much public attention and support from individuals from Virginia, it could have been avoided if the non-discrimination laws in Virginia were more clear and comprehensive to include the LGBT population, which is now rather significant. Such incidents affect not just the LGBT population, but related family, friends, co-workers, businesses, and organizations, basically all people in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
I urge you and your lawmakers to revise your laws to include such protection. Without the simple required wording, your laws can easily be interpreted as discrimination against unspecified populations to be legal and permitted. While many individuals and organizations realize that should not be the case, there are still some who are inherently prejudiced and/or miseducated. More incidents like mine will reoccur as individuals and organizations with strong prejudice choose to exercise discrimination under support of current laws, creating huge social and economic damage to everyone. Having the proper laws in place will encourage awareness and put in place the necessary education and training to help all individuals and organizations properly respect their fellow human beings.