Equality Means Business
We are entering the fourth year of an ambitious campaign to secure the active support of Florida's top employers in response to the far right's adversarial stance against anti-discrimination laws for the LGBT community. The growing success of our Equality Means Business (EMB) program, which now includes many of Florida's largest employers, has caused our opposition to claim that small businesses would suffer from the burdens of new anti-discrimination protections. In response, we launched our Another Business for Equality (AB4E.org) program. Through AB4E, we reach out to local, small businesses that stand in solidarity with our mission to secure full equality for Florida's estimated one million LGBT men, women, and youth. Employers of every size are working with us to deliver the message that workplace discrimination harms employees and businesses alike, with discrimination against Florida's LGBT employees costing employers more than $362 million a year.
In 2014, Equality Florida Institute launched TransAction Florida, a statewide initiative, led by a dynamic transgender board, created to increase awareness, educate, and promote complete equality for the transgender community. Our full-time Transgender Inclusion Director travels throughout the state educating corporations and elected officials on the importance of non-discrimination protections for transgender Floridians. Through this program, Equality Florida is uniquely positioned to counter anti-trans scare tactics with supportive messages from business, community, and faith-based leaders.
Local Policy Work and Partnerships with the Faith-Based Community
Today, 56% of all Floridians live in municipalities or counties with sexual orientation and gender identity-based nondiscrimination protections. Because these local policies fail to cover the most hostile areas of the state, we must continue to fight for protection at the local level until we secure a uniform statewide anti-discrimination policy. One of our most important collaborations in this project is with the faith-based community. We are working with faith-based organizations in rural areas by partnering with Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN), which organizes within the United Methodist Church, the second largest Protestant denomination in the US after the Southern Baptist Convention. The UMC is known as a mainline protestant denomination in the US with over 30,000 churches. Together, we seek to engage the nearly 300,000 United Methodist voices in Florida, while also leveraging this partnership to draw other faith communities to join us in support of LGBT equality.
LGBTQ Safe and Healthy Schools Program
The Safe and Healthy Schools Program aims to create a culture of inclusion while countering the bullying, harassment, social isolation, and bigotry that dramatically increase risk factors for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) students. Through this program, we will work with Miami-Dade County Public Schools to assist in implementing comprehensive, nationally recognized best practices for meeting the needs of LGBTQ students. We expect to achieve the following outcomes:
1. Create a Safe and Healthy Schools Assessment Manual. The manual will be a comprehensive guide outlining nationally recognized best practices, programs, and policies for meeting the needs of LGBTQ students, and it will also serve as a measurement tool that ranks success in targeted areas. This will be the first resource of its kind created in the country and will be made immediately available to school districts throughout Florida.
2. Convene a coalition of LGBTQ youth-serving and mainstream agencies, develop detailed policy and procedural guides, and provide extensive professional development to school administrators and staff.
3. Provide statewide consultancy and support to any district facing crisis or moving proactively to support LGBTQ students. As LGBTQ youth come out in increasing numbers, crisis needs will be negotiated and questions will be responded to about student, staff, and family safety through the lens of healthy policies, programs, and practices.