valdezOpenly lesbian Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, a former Victory Fund endorsee, has updated the Sheriff’s Department’s employment nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

While the city of Dallas has included sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination policies since 1995, this will be the the first department in the county government to include gender identity. The policy first went into affect in January, two months after Valdez was elected to her second term.

The Dallas Voice reports:

“We continually strive to ensure that all employees are treated fairly in the workplace,” Valdez said. “It has and will continue to be our policy to educate all personnel about the expectation that everyone in the department must act in a professional manner toward each other and the public at all times.”

It remains to be seen whether Valdez will face any backlash for adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the department’s General Orders. Last year she indicated that law enforcement unions representing sheriff’s department employees were opposed to the changes. Scott Evans, president of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Association, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Valdez faced criticism in 2006 after she appointed a gay and lesbian liaison for the sheriff’s department. And six weeks before last year’s election, she was accused of “promoting a gay agenda” because of a survey that was used in diversity training on sexual orientation for department employees.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Shelley Knight, who oversees both the diversity training and the General Orders, said the department hasn’t made any special effort to publicize the changes. However, Knight said employees are required to have a working knowledge of the General Orders.

“The General Orders have been out a month,” Knight said. “Nobody’s said anything.”

Asked why it took four years in office for the sheriff to implement the changes, Knight said it hasn’t been one of Valdez’s top priorities.

Knight, a sheriff’s deputy for almost 18 years, added that she doesn’t believe there’s a problem with anti-LGBT discrimination in the department. However, she said she thinks the changes are still important.

“I think it’s important to have any of them in there, whether it be race, sex or any of it,” Knight said. “That way, if something comes up, you can take care of it.”