Mayor speaks out after transgender advocacy group says employee was harassed at downtown hotel

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed spoke out on social media after a group visiting the capital city was reportedly discriminated against.

Reed said in a tweet Wednesday he was disappointed to hear about the treatment of members of the The Knights & Orchids Society, also known as TKO, during their recent visit.

According to its Facebook page, the organization is a “southern centered grassroots startup founded and led by black, queer, transgender, and gender non-conforming people supporting gender justice and LGBTQ visibility.”

A Facebook post by the organization said members and youth ambassadors were attending a work retreat at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott in downtown Montgomery, and during that time, one of its employees was harassed by a guest at the hotel who was “visibly drunk.”

According to the organization, the man threatened the TKO employee, “publicly humiliated her by misgendering her” and used “transphobic slurs.”

When she brought the incident to the hotel staff, the members were asked to leave, according to the organization’s Facebook post.

The post also said police detained the man who was reportedly harassing the member but later released and allowed him to remain at the hotel.

“TKO’s youth ambassadors were also present to witness this unfolding, and one of them let us know that they have been considering transitioning, but they feel it’s far too dangerous to be Black and openly trans,” the post added. “Our trans youth can’t envision a future where they will be safe because instances like this happen far too often and can lead to even worse outcomes.”

The group later said a meeting had been set up with the hotel.

Reed tweeted that discrimination of any kind is unacceptable. He said the city is committed to working with its partners to be a more inclusive community.

“This shows us the hard work remains,” Reed added.

We have reached out to hotel management and SpringHill Suites by Marriott by phone and email for comment. SpringHill Suites by Marriott released the following statement:

“We are committed to providing an environment where all of our guests and employees feel safe and welcome. We are aware that the handling of a recent verbal altercation between guests cause offense. We regret this, and are communicating directly with the guests involved to understand their experience.”