Tampa appeals ruling striking down conversion therapy ban

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: Tampa Pride 2018 participants make their way down 7th Ave. in Ybor. Photo by Russ Martin.

TAMPA | The city of Tampa has appealed a ruling striking down its ban on the discredited practice of conversion therapy.

The practice purports to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity and is opposed by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and more. Tampa banned it in 2017 “to protect the physical and psychological well-being of minors.”

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Florida lawmakers seek a statewide ban on conversion therapy in 2020

By : Jeremy Williams
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(Photo from Equality Florida’s Facebook)

TALLAHASSEE, Florida | Equality Florida was joined by state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez (D- Miami) and state Rep. Michael Grieco (D-Miami Beach) in hosting a press conference at the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee Nov. 5 to discuss legislation that would enact a statewide ban on the widely discredited practice of so-called conversion therapy on minors.

House Bill (HB) 41 — filed in the Florida House on Aug. 9 by Grieco — and Senate Bill (SB) 180 — filed in the Florida Senate on Aug. 23 by Rodríguez — both seek to prohibit licensed practitioners from performing conversion therapy on minors and leaving any practitioners who do so subject to disciplinary proceedings by the state’s Department of Health and appropriate boards.

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St. Pete Equality Connection

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Join Equality Florida in the La Florida Ballroom at Red Mesa Cantina for a chance to mix, mingle, and introduce people to the work of Equality Florida. This is a great opportunity for our members, supporters of equality, and the St. Pete community to learn about the work of securing LGBTQ equality in Florida.

We will be highlighting and providing an update on the work we are doing through our Safe & Healthy Schools and Equality Means Business programs in addition to a very exciting drag performance!

Enjoy complimentary appetizers and festive Halloween décor! There will also be a raffle with fabulous prizes and specialty cocktail for purchase with proceeds going toward Equality Florida. There is no charge for this event, so please bring a friend!

St Pete Equality Connection

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Share this story:

Join us in the La Florida Ballroom at Red Mesa Cantina for a chance to mix, mingle, and introduce people to the work of Equality Florida. This is a great opportunity for our members, supporters of equality, and the St. Pete community to learn about the work of securing LGBTQ equality in Florida.

We will be highlighting and providing an update on the work we are doing through our Safe & Healthy Schools and Equality Means Business programs in addition to a very exciting drag performance!

Enjoy complimentary appetizers and festive Halloween décor! There will also be a raffle with fabulous prizes and specialty cocktail for purchase with proceeds going toward Equality Florida. There is no charge for this event, so please bring a friend!

Thank you to Hake Investment Group with Raymond James, Red Mesa Events and Red Mesa Cantina for sponsoring this event.

PHOTOS: Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit brings fun and education to LGBTQ youth

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The City of Orlando, Zebra Coalition and LGBTQ organizations across Central Florida celebrated LGBTQ youth with the fifth annual Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit at Valencia College’s West Campus on Oct. 19.

Dozens of LGBTQ youth, parents, guardians, community leaders and local educators spent the day learning about topics such as queer history, politics and health services to name a few. LGBTQ organizations including Equality Florida, Hope & Help, QLatinx, UCF’s LGBTQ+ Services, GLSEN, One Orlando Alliance and more held a information fair providing information to the youth on what each of them do for the community.

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Judge strikes down Tampa’s conversion therapy ban

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: Tampa Pride 2018. Photo by Russ Martin.

TAMPA | U.S. District Judge William Jung issued a ruling Oct. 4 striking down Tampa’s ban on the discredited practice of conversion therapy.

Conversion therapy purports to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It is widely opposed by prominent health associations including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association.

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Pulse survivor Brandon Wolf releases gun violence speech ahead of meeting with Congress

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Brandon Wolf, Equality Florida’s media relations manager and survivor of the Pulse shooting, will meet with the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means to address the need for common sense gun legislation.

Wolf released the speech he intends to give to Congress to Out magazine ahead of the Sept. 19 hearing. In it he talks about the night of the shooting which left 49 killed and dozens more injured, losing his friends Drew Leinonen and Juan Guerrero that night to the shooter, and how his story is not a unique one in the U.S.

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LGBTQ youth who are making a difference: Ian Siljestrom

By : Jeremy Williams
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27 | Gay | He/Him/His

Ian has made his way around Florida. Born in Cocoa Beach, he left for the University of Florida in Gainesville and then settled in Jacksonville where he was a science and health teacher for fifth graders.

“So I didn’t ever want to [work in the LGBTQ community]. It wasn’t ever of interest to me. I was all science everything. I studied sustainability in college. I intended to be an elementary school teacher to get my kid excited about science. And that’s what I did and that’s everything that drove me,” Ian says.

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LGBTQ youth who are making a difference: Prin Ocea

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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24 | Queer, Genderqueer, Transgender | They/Them/Theirs

Prin Ocea is passionate about environmental justice and creating safe spaces for the LGBTQ community, marrying the two whenever possible.

It’s one of the reasons they started Outside the Binary in 2016, a nonbinary peer support group that operates in Tampa twice per month and in St. Petersburg monthly. The group exists for the benefit of nonbinary individuals and Ocea formed it to fill a void. “I had been to trans support groups and I couldn’t relate to a lot of experiences of binary trans people as a nonbinary person,” they recalls. “I wanted a space to be able to talk about the issues I was having and have a community that understood what I was talking about.”

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Sen. Rick Scott blocked millions of dollars for HIV prevention when he was governor of Florida

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Then-Gov. Rick Scott speaking at CPACFL in Orlando in 2011. (Photo by Gage Skidmore, from Flickr)

Republican Sen. Rick Scott and his administration rejected $70 million in federal funds to address HIV in Florida while Scott was the state’s governor, according to an investigative report released by The Guardian on Sept. 11.

The Guardian states that between 2015-2017, Florida returned $54 million in grants to the federal government intended for combating HIV. This was “due to an apparently deliberate failure on the part of state health bosses to secure legislative permission to spend such desperately needed funds.”

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Bee Love killed in South Florida, 18th trans murder this year

By : Lora Korpar
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ABOVE: Bee Love Slater. (From Facebook)

Bee Love Slater was found burned in a vehicle in Clewiston, Florida the morning of Sept. 4, just a week shy of her 24th birthday.

The Hendry County Sheriff’s Office is investigating her death as a homicide. While they are still trying to establish a motive, Slater’s best friend Kenard Wade and many others believe that this was a targeted attack that had to do with her being transgender.

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09.05.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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When my husband and I meet our friends on the weekend and I happen to partake in enough libations to get a bit tipsy, I tend to find myself grappling with one of three levels of intoxication.

Thankfully it doesn’t happen too often, but the first is “Disney drunk” when it does. It leads to a whole new world of one-man productions featuring every animated classic under the sea. The second is “drive-thru drunk,” in which I spend ridiculous amounts of money on food that goes straight to my hips.

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