Crossing the Line Into Hate and Fear

| May 23, 2016
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On April 26, 2016, at 5:30 pm, the School Board of Marion County Florida banned Trans* students from using the restroom that did not conformed with the sex on their birth certificates. Within a week, they scheduled the ’emergency’ meeting, held limited public discussions and voted. The vote was four to one against the LGBT students. Four members of the School Board decided the major lessons for the year in the Marion County, Florida schools are diversity is a bad, inclusion, acceptance and love of LGBT students is wrong. Hate, fear and loathing are acceptable practices within the public schools of Marion County.

For the past twelve years, I have worked in Marion County for the City of Ocala. I live forty miles north in the city of Gainesville, Florida, and have for over twenty-five years. As a trans woman, and a member of the LGBT community working in Marion County, I know my job can be taken away just for just being me. I can lose my health coverage, wages and have my retirement suffer. The person I love dearly worries I may endure embarrassment, bullying, job loss and violence. I fear her being associated with me would put her in peril even though she is cisgender. When I cross the Marion County line every morning, I enter a place where hate, injustice and bigotry live. I work in a place where I have no rights.

When I return in the evenings to Gainesville, Florida in Alachua County, I am returning to a city and a county that both have Human Rights Ordinances (HRO) protecting their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans* and Gender Non-Conforming citizens. I cannot be denied housing, health care, employment. I am not regulated by what restrooms I may use. Students in the Alachua County schools are protected by a non-discrimination policy that includes gender identity. The University of Florida, sitting in the heart of Gainesville and Alachua County, also have a strong non-discrimination policy. How can it be so different by just crossing an invisible legal line? I live in a place where I have rights.

In the State of Florida, it is estimated half of all its citizens are protected by a Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) granting protection to the LGBT and Gender Non-Conforming community. However, that means that 10,135,636 Florida citizens are not protected by an HRO. These members of my community, my family, are not protected. They live in a place with no rights.

The School Board of Marion County ignored threats of lawsuits and loss of Federal Title IX funding for denying the civil rights of their LGBT students. They put the education of all their students in jeopardy of having a school system where funding is reduced and lawsuits. Is the risk of hurting every student in Marion County, Florida, worth it to allow bigotry in their schools?

The members of the Marion County School Board members and the North Carolina Legislature, just to name two, are elected to maintain the general welfare of all their students and citizens. Yet ignorance and bigotry cloud their judgment, put their entities in jeopardy of loss of major federal funds, open them up to lawsuits and deny the rights of their students and citizens. This must stop.

It is imperative we in the LGBT community and our allies address these concerns. Please write all of the elected official perpetrating these injustices. Visit their offices and attend public meetings. Help the HRC, Equality Florida and all state and local agencies working for our behalf. Peaceful civil disobedience has been effective for centuries, let’s use it. We must not and will not rest until all our students and all citizens are protected from injustices such as these.

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Category: Transgender Opinion, Transgender Politics


About the Author ()

I am Cate, a mature transgender woman. I am a writer, blogger, parent, grandparent, sailor, activist and happy. I am a widow, and live with my yorkiepoo, Belle. I love music, reading, cooking, outdoors, DIY, theater, antiquing and flea markets, home brewing, and seeing what is around the bend in the road or over the horizon. I own the website. It is an outreach, support and resource for mature trans* people and especially for those who, like me, came out after fifty.

Comments (1)

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  1. carlaroberts carlaroberts says:

    It is a fine line we walk sometimes. I live in a conservative “Red” state. Although the two major cities have enacted protections for LGBT persons, all to often, it is all to easy to slight, frustrate, and otherwise harass those who do not conform to gender norms. In being an activist, I do not fear for myself, but those i love can be subjected to slights, and being ill-treated, just by association. Discrimination is an insidious thing, and those who want to discriminate find ways of doing it in spite of legal protections.
    Being retired, I am grateful that it offers so many more freedoms to be myself, but it angers me that my freedoms and activism sometimes come at the expense of those I care about the most.


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