Tampa Bay demands Supreme Court uphold LGBT job rights
Tampa, FL – On October 7 and 8, Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) rallied against the lack of federal job protections for LGBT workers. On October 8, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) began discussions on three cases that relate to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which protects against job discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin,” in order to decide whether sexual orientation and gender identity are also protected under Title VII. Tampa Bay SDS held two rallies in response to this, as a part of a National SDS call to action. SDS demanded that the Supreme Court rule in favor of federal job protections for LGBT workers.
The first event was held in front of the Sam M. Gibbons Federal Courthouse where, just days earlier, a city-wide ban on conversion therapy was lifted. Conversion therapy is a pseudoscientific practice that purports to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. But it is a torturous practice that mainly targets LGBTQ youth and increases the chance of suicide for those who endure it. Several members of Tampa Bay’s police department tried to quiet the pro-LGBTQ chants. This is the same police department that has ignored attacks on Tampa’s LGBT community and even misgendered murder victim India Clarke in 2015.
The second event was held at the University of South Florida campus, which discriminated against LGBTQ workers and students during the Lavender Scare and the tenure of the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee, also known as the “John’s Committee.” There is even a building on campus named after notorious homophobe C. W. Bill Young, who worked on the John’s Committee to target and persecute LGBTQ teachers and students – causing numerous people to be ostracized, fired and one to attempt suicide. The administration at the university has ignored students’ calls to change the name of the building since 2015.
These rallies revealed that the fight for LGBTQ rights is not over. The mayor of the city of Tampa is a member of the LGBT community and on campus at the University of South Florida there are many references to diversity and inclusion. Yet, despite these superficialities, the LGBTQ community on campus, in the city, and across the country continues to be attacked. Tampa Bay SDS galvanized members of the community and students to take to the streets to defend the LGBTQ community from these attacks.
“It’s not identities or morality that make progressive political change, it’s the power of the people fighting back, in unity, for better conditions. And it is only through continuous struggle that we can maintain what we win,” said Tampa Bay SDS member, Elizabeth Kramer.