Home' South Florida Gay News : SFGN 082615 Contents 8.26.2015 • 7
“We’ve gotten marriage
equality, but forgotten the
people that have been most
dehumanized by their gender.”
- Tony Plakas
Executive Director of
Compass in Palm Beach
issue they’ve been working on is the
Florida Competitive Workforce Act.
“I know that Equality Florida is seeking to
move this through the legislature, and I think
that if that is accomplished, we’ll have a better
Florida where all Floridians are protected
from employment discrimination,” he said.
Hoch from the PBCHRC said he’s been
waiting 41 years to see an act that would
protect people in the workforce.
“There are still no federal laws that protect
them based on sexual orientation and
gender expression,” he said.
While in Palm Beach County, ordinances
have been passed to ensure that
discrimination is illegal, it still has to be
properly enforced, Hoch said.
Caitlin Wood, the executive director of the
Aqua Foundation for Women, said the Aqua
Foundation wants to focus on education
about workplace fairness.
Lima said SAVE has been working on
making sure that in Florida the complete
community is protected when it comes to
the work force.
“Right now, you can be fired from your
job, denied public services, denied public
accommodations,” he said. “You can get
married today, but fired tomorrow.”
One of the ways that these organizations
are hoping to get the Florida Competitive
Workforce Act passed is by getting LGBT
allies elected to the legislature.
Electing LGBT Allies
A crucial step in protecting the LGBT
community has been electing LGBT allies to
the Florida legislature. Many organizations
have been advocating and campaigning for
people they think can make LGBT-friendly
laws and ordinances happen.
Bishop said an important step to ensure
change is made is finding people on the
legislature who will ensure protection for
“The reality is that we have to find and
identify committee members who are
willing to go before the municipalities,” he
said. “We have to find the legislators who
understand that transgender citizens need
these protections and encourage those allies
to sponsor these pieces of legislation, and
then we move forward from there.”
He said stakeholders and other key people
involved in creating change should also be
Hoch agrees. The PBCHRC has stressed
the importance of maintaining longstanding
relationships with elected officials and
people involved in law.
“We’ve been at this since 1988,” he said.
“It’s easier here than in other parts of
the state, and we have people who have
supported us [working with the law]. The
relationships really help us move forward
with our goals.”
At SAVE, Lima said, they’re focused on
electing equality minded leaders to represent
the community. They seek to replace seats of
discriminatory officials with LGBT allies.
Most notably, they’ve helped Rep. David
Richardson, the first openly gay legislator,
get elected by preparing him and supporting
“He’s still working on very hard,” he said.
“He’s the strongest voice in the legislature
SAVE has recently backed Richardson for
the Florida Senate in 2016.
“We’re helping to pass policy, such as
being able to fight the bathroom bill,” Lima
said. “We want to squash the adoption bill.”
Another major issue that has continuously
been at the forefront of LGBT organizations’
attention is HIV/STD prevention.
Luigi Ferrer, bisexual activist and director
of Health Services at Pridelines Youth,
stressed the importance of educating LGBT
“As director of Health Services, I would
hope that one of the issues we can take up in
the near future is the lack of Comprehensive
Sex Ed in our school,” he said. “I don’t think
it’s a coincidence that Miami has the high
HIV transmission rate in the U.S. and we
have no Sex Ed in our schools. Furthermore
what is offered is heteronormative to a fault
and does not include any information on
same-sex HIV/STI prevention.”
He said he believes that “LGBTQ teens
growing up in the highest HIV incidence
metro area in the country have the right to
accurate, unbiased, science-based sexual
Other organizations also feel that HIV/
AIDS education is important within the
Plakas said Compass was one of the first
groups to get involved with HIV and AIDS
“Thirty years later, we are the experts in
how to engage groups of people free of bias
and stigma,” he said. “I’m making sure the
emerging population have someone they
can turn to and [access to] mentoring and
assistance. We’re up to speed on an epidemic
that has been a blight on the community for
over 35 years.”
Rajner said it’s important to work to
ensure that sexual health and sex educations
“We continue to drill down these efforts
through legislations and good public policy
so our community is prioritized, especially
when looking at issues with HIV men,” he
Continued on next page.
Tony Lima, Executive
Director of SAVE.
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