GLAAD cohosts panel discussion on LGBT legislation in Jacksonville

Ross Murray

On Tuesday, June 28, GLAAD and Jacksonville Coalition for Equality (JCE) cohosted a public event entitled "Tipping Point: Jacksonville's Role in the National LGBT Discussion – A Nondiscrimination Town Hall" at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Jacksonville. Around 100 community members attended the event. It served as a platform for regional members and allies of the LGBT community to discuss the local, state, and national debates surrounding discrimnatory anti-LGBT legislation and the need for LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances.

Stage set up of the panel discussion. Photo by Ross Murray. 

The event began with a brief happy hour and led into a panel discussion. The panelists included Nancy Broner, former School Board member; Tricia Russel, Vice President, Business Control Manager, Bank of America, and educator and spokesperson for transgender equality; and Ross Murray, Director of Programs – U.S. South & Global, GLAAD. The conversation was moderated by Jimmy Midyette, Legislative Director, JCE.

Jimmy Midyette, Ross Murray, Nancy Broner and Tricia Russel (left to right) on stage during the panel discussion.

Midyette opened the discussion by playing two videos — the first discussing anti-LGBT legislation and so-called "bathroom bills," and the second, a North Carolina commercial bringing attention to the discriminatory nature of the state's harmful law, House Bill 2. The panelists then explored both the rise of anti-LGBT legislation nationwide and the White House directive on implementing gender neutral bathrooms in public schools.

The discussion also touched on the attack at Pulse night club in Orlando. The panelists believe this tragedy should make it even clearer the need for greater protections for victims of hate crimes. Currently, there are no legally guaranteed protections for victims of hate crimes based on gender identity or expression in the state of Florida, leaving a large portion of the LGBT community unprotected.

View from the stage. Photo by Ross Murray.

The floor was then opened up for a Q&A session with the audience. 

This event culminated a day of advocacy, a partnership between GLAAD and JCE, that included a conversation about anti-LGBT legislation on First Coast Connect and a luncheon with local faith leaders. The events aimed to promote advocacy for the LGBT community and accelerate acceptance among LGBT Floridians.