Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis excludes LGBTQ protections from non-discrimination executive order

By : Abigail Brashear
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Gov. Ron DeSantis failed to include LGBTQ protections within an executive order that reaffirmed other existing protections and denied discrimination. 

Executive order 1910 was issued hours after DeSantis was sworn into office on Tuesday and is titled, “Reaffirming Commitment to Diversity in Government.” It repeatedly rejects the idea of discrimination against “age, sex, race, color, religion, national origin, marital status or disability,” but fails to mention anything regarding the topic of gender identity or sexuality orientation. 

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Sarah Fortney: Polk County School Board Member

By : Erin Pike
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Sarah Fortney has been an educator and advocate for students and staff for over 30 years, fighting for their rights and creating the best learning environment for all.

Over three years ago, Sarah and I were attending an emergency staff meeting on the last day of school, and as we watched our school district lead a powerful change maker through a forced resignation, Sarah spoke up for the staff and the students. That was the day Sarah knew her efforts were not enough and began to consider what more she could do.

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Trump’s safety panel seeks to revoke school discipline rules

By : wire report
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President Donald Trump’s school safety commission on Dec. 18 called for a rollback of an Obama-era policy that was meant to curb racial disparities in school discipline but that critics say left schools afraid to take action against potentially dangerous students.

The panel, led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, made the recommendation in a report that lays out dozens of suggestions to improve safety in America’s schools. Trump created the commission in March following a Parkland, Florida, school shooting that killed 17 students and staff members.

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Stormy Daniels cancels strip club appearance over homophobic slur

By : MARIAH COOPER OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Stormy Daniels canceled her scheduled appearance at Goldfinger, a strip club in Sunrise, Fla., because she claims the club owner used a homophobic slur against her assistant.

Daniels took to Instagram to call out the club owner for using the slur and alleges he also asked Daniels to “do something not in my contract.”

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Florida leads nation, introduces bill to end conversion therapy in 2019 legislative session

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. | Florida became the first state nationwide to introduce legislation to end conversion therapy in the 2019 legislative session Nov. 21.

State Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Democrat who represents Florida’s 37th district in Miami-Dade, introduced Senate Bill 84 (SB 84) to protect LGBTQ youth from the discredited practice.  Conversion therapy purports to change a child’s sexual orientation and gender identity using “psychological or spiritual intervention.” It is widely opposed by prominent health associations including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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Positive Living: Without oppression, who are we?

By : Greg Stemm
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When I moved to St. Petersburg in the summer of 1983 I couldn’t serve openly in the military. It was unlikely that I could be hired as a teacher. I couldn’t adopt children. There were no local and huge gay pride celebrations. Most of the bars weren’t in great areas of Tampa and marriage was a pipe dream no one ever seriously thought we’d see. Such was gay life in 1983.

Flash forward to now. Men introduce their husbands; women introduce their wives, and they may introduce you to their children. We can serve our country. St. Petersburg hosts an LGBTQ pride celebration that draws well over 200,000 people. The library in my little town of Gulfport has an LGBTQ Resource Center that has brought us national acclaim. Gay characters and role models for our young people abound on TV and in mainstream society we are mostly seen as upstanding citizens, not mentally ill patients or sexual deviants who should be pitied or shunned.

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The 2018 Amendment Guide

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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This year’s ballot lists 12 potential amendments to the Florida Constitution. Only two of those were proposed by Florida’s citizens, including Amendment 4. It is the only amendment Equality Florida has taken a stance on, advising that the eligibility to vote is fundamental to democracy and that voting yes “is the first step in helping LGBTQ people with former convictions.”

For more information about 2018’s proposed amendments, read on below.

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LGBT History Project: Florida’s panhandle once hosted the largest LGBT gathering in the country

By : Graham Brunk, SPECIAL TO WATERMARK FROM THE LGBT HISTORY PROJECT
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Emma Jones was one of the greatest LGBT allies in the 1960s in northern Florida. Too bad she didn’t actually exist.

When a reporter once went looking for the mysterious woman he was told, “Honey, the Emma Jones Society is you and me and every other faggot in this town, and nobody here gives a damn who Miss Emma Jones herself is.”

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The Tender activist: Whatever gets you through the day

By : Scottie Campbell
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Perhaps it’s just in my circle of friends and acquaintances, but I have been struck lately by the casualness and accompanying entitlement of theophobia.

Theophobia is not a well-reasoned discussion about religion, it’s not someone stating their belief with supporting evidence, instead it’s someone stating things in such a way that implies the stupidity of anyone believing in religion or perhaps certain religions.

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The Last Page with Michael Wanzie

By : Rick Claggett
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What kind of writing do you do for Watermark?

Viewpoints, often political but almost always humorous.

What is the name of your Viewpoint Column?

The Wonderful World of Wanzie

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Emma González’s summer of activism

By : Karen Ocamb OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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LOS ANGELES | Emma González is famous now. She’d rather be enjoying the summer before college hanging out with friends.

But the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., stole away that carefree freedom, morally forcing the survivors to take on the responsibility of doing something about the gun violence that has impacted more than 150,000 students in the two decades since the mass shooting at Columbine High School.

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High school student comes out while running for Citrus County School Board position

By : Colton Adkins
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CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. | 18-year-old high school student Adam York, who is running for the District 5 seat on the Citrus County School Board, came out as gay during a public forum June 29.

York expressed that coming out in such a public way was never intentional, as the county is predominantly conservative, but a question during a forum motivated him.

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