When I moved to Florida, I knew life would be good south of Orlando. That's where the state seems to be more blue than red, more LGBTQ+ accepting, and more forward thinking. Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. I would feel fine living in any of those cities. There are definitely two Floridas.
A recent survey by The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law focused on LGBTQI adults from Northeast Florida. In the results, researchers found that 75% experienced “everyday discrimination” in the past 12 months, including being disrespected, threatened, or harassed. What was that harassment based on?
- Sexual Orientation - 53%
- Gender - 33%
- Age - 25%
Florida is one of those states that you can be fired for any reason (At Will Employment).
- 1 in 5 said they have been fired because of their sexual orientation.
- 1 in 3 believe they were not hired for a job because of their sexual orientation
- 1 in 6 say they’ve been denied a promotion at some point in their lives
We find it very easy to be out in souther Florida, but what about the north?
- 78% of sexual minority respondents said they are “out” to all of their LGBTQI friends.
- 69% reported being out to their immediate family.
- More than one-fifth admitted they were not yet out to their current boss, members of their faith community, or their personal health care provider.
- 61% of African Americans were out to even their LGBTQI friends
- Less than 1/2 of African Americans are out to their immediate family.
But what about living in Jacksonville? How is the quality of life for LGBTQ+ citizens. Do they feel comfortable there?
- 73% said they felt there was either a great deal or some acceptance in the city or town where they live.
- 29% said Jacksonville is a city that embraces diversity
- 17% say Northeast Florida, as a region, embraces diversity.
- Roughly 1/2 said they do not believe that Jacksonville / Northeast Florida laws adequately protect LGBTQI people from discrimination.
Michael Meyers, the president of the LGBT Community Fund for Northeast Florida was asked if he thought Northeast Florida was welcoming. He cited the survey results that indicated most people do not believe that Northeast Florida and the Jacksonville area are friendly to LGBTQI people.
“Broadly, in the community, we need to do a better job of making LGBT people feel welcome and worthwhile, and like they’re contributing parts of our community,” he says. “I think that hostility to trans people is certainly part of Northeast Florida, but I also think it’s an issue across the country,” he says. “What it says to me is we have a large amount of education to do to get [cisgender] people to be more comfortable with something that is unfamiliar to them.” - metroweekly.com
The city of Jacksonville has a Human Rights Ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, but there are no statewide laws in Florida that protect LGBTQI people from being discriminated against. Even though there is an ordinance, it takes a while to change mentalities.
So what can be done to help Jacksonville become a better place to live for LGBTQ+ ? We love surveys that give us suggestions.
What it boils down to is Jacksonville is in the heart of the 4th largest metropolitan area in the state. But it is not as liberal as southern Florida. When you look at a map of the South, some feel the South stops at the Florida-Georgia Line, but it actually extends to just north of Orlando. There have been several talks, like in California, to split Southern Florida away from Northern Florida since they differ greatly in economic, political, social, and environmental views.
But the percentiles are promising and not all bad. They are just not where we as an LGBTQ+ community want them to be.
Of course this is me putting my two cents into the mix. There wasn't a study done in Southern Florida to compare to this UCLA study. The numbers may be quite close. We do not know at this time. But what we do know is just living in the state, knowing the personal stories and experiences. Listening to the politicians, knowing that the only gay bar we know of worth visiting north of Orlando is actually in Mobile, Alabama.
There are pockets of every state and every city where we know we are more welcome than others and places where we know not to go. How is your state split up? Is it the basic big city/little city ? Is it a north/south split?
The survey was conducted by The Williams Institute, a think tank at the UCLA School of Law that specializes in studying and analyzing LGBTQ issues between August and November of 2017.