Report: Florida Bucks Southern Trend of ‘Hostile’ LGBTQ Policies

This year, Virginia became the first state in the South to pass comprehensive statewide nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people, while 60% of Floridians achieve similar protections through local ordinances. Photo credit Shutterstock licensed.

TALLAHASSEE, FL – LGBTQ people in the southern U.S. are living under the “most hostile policy landscape” in the country, according to a new report that says Florida may be the exception.

The report by the Movement Advancement Project examined 14 southern states and found unfriendly policies for the one in three individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning – and who call the South home.

The Project’s Policy Researcher Logan Casey says discriminatory laws target LGBTQ youth, adults considering fostering or adopting, and religious exemptions in healthcare. But he says 60% of Floridians live in places with inclusive, nondiscrimination protections.

“Florida has really been not just a Southern leader but national leader in advocating for LGBTQ communities,” says Casey. “(It) has been through achieving nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ communities at the local level.”

Casey credits grassroots efforts from groups like Equality Florida.

The report was released in partnership with Prideland, a short-form digital series on PBS Voices, now on YouTube. A one hour special will air on the Public Broadcasting Service on June 12.

Casey says about half of all LGBTQ people across the country live in states that don’t have statewide anti-discrimination protections for their employment, housing and public places and businesses.

“Every state in the South, except Virginia, lacks those statewide protections,” says Casey. “And LGBTQ community members and advocates in Florida have been extremely successful at seeking out and passing local-level ordinances to prohibit such discrimination in cities and counties.”

The Prideland series follows actor Dyllon Burnside, who identifies as queer, on a journey across the South to meet diverse members of the LGBTQ community.

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