Tampa, St. Petersburg achieve perfect LGBTQ+ inclusion scores amidst statewide ’emergency’

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St. Pete cityscape
Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. By Seán Kinane/WMNF News (April, 2016).

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Tampa and St. Petersburg recently scored perfect scores on the National Human Rights Campaign’s nationwide LGBTQ inclusion assessment. However,  this comes as the HRC still deems Florida in a ‘state of emergency’ for its treatment of LGBTQ Floridians.

The Municipal Equality Index examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of LGBTQ+ people who live and work in US cities.

“Florida is definitely, definitely among the very worst of the bad. But some of these cities are among the best of the good, and I think it’s important to be able to say that too.”

Cathryn Oakley is the senior director for legal policy at the Human Rights Campaign.

The report measured factors such as St. Petersburg and Tampa’s presence of an LGBTQ+ liaison in their police department, and city non-discrimination laws. This is the tenth year in a row that St. Petersburg has earned a perfect score.

“We’re not rating the experience of an LGBTQ person who’s living in one of these cities, instead we’re rating the work that the city has done in terms of passing laws and policies to try to ensure that LGBTQ people have important protections and are included in the work of the city government.”

Florida has made national headlines for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation such as what critics call the Don’t Say Gay bill and gender-affirming care ban. A recent proposed bill would ban state employees from using their preferred pronouns, and prohibit nonprofits from training employees on issues of gender and sexuality.

“For both Tampa and St. Pete, they have made really important choices about the kinds of services and policies that they want to offer, that are trying to send a very different message than the message the folks in Tallahassee are trying to send.”

Six other Florida cities, including Orlando and Miami, received perfect scores.

 

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