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Tampa’s tolerance still has a long way to go

Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 00:01


In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, The Daily Beast set out to determine the top 20 most tolerant cities in America. 

The list included Tampa at No. 20 and Orlando at No. 16. In a separate ranking, The Daily Beast also listed Florida as the 15th most tolerant state. The news stands in promising contrast for Florida, as both cities were included in Men's Health ranking of the top 20 most miserable cities in America in December 2011. However, the state still has a long way to go toward achieving tolerance.

The Daily Beast calculated scores assigned to each city based on factors such as the number of hate crimes, the percentage of residents who support same-sex marriage and the percentage of residents who are accepting of various religions. 

Tampa had 2.8 reported hate crimes for every 100,000 household and Orlando had 2.9 incidents for every 100,000. Yet, according to a report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, only 44 percent of hate crimes are actually reported to the police and officially recorded, making these percentages dramatically higher across all states and cities. 

According to the report, most hate crimes are based on race. Other reasons include ethnicity and sexual orientation. Despite their prevalence in society, gays and lesbians are victimized about six times the average rate, the report found.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, same-sex partner households in Florida have increased 40 percent from 2000 to 2010.  Approximately 12 out of every 1,000 households are headed by same-sex partners. According to The Daily Beast's ranking of tolerant states, 41 percent of Floridians are in support of same-sex marriage, but Florida received a gay rights score of 0 out of 10.

On the plus side, 72 percent of Floridians polled believe that "many religions lead to eternal life" according to the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey by The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

USF hosts a number of opportunities to raise one's awareness including the Safe Zone certification, a course in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transexual and queer issues offered several times a semester.

Tampa is indeed on its way to tolerance, but it has a long way to go when it comes to acting on these beliefs. Policies that many Floridians support, such as gay marriage, are not reflected in the legislation. And while Tampa ranks high on religious tolerance, issues such as reproductive rights, gay rights and hate crimes even 42 years after King's death have still not been resolved.

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