Tampa still needs improvement for LGBT rights

Tampa still has room for improvement for LGBT rights. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

The third annual Tampa Pride parade and festival took place Saturday in Ybor City as the citizens joined together to celebrate being part of and standing in support of the LGBT community.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Pulse survivors, Congresswoman Kathy Castor and many others all joined in the festivities and offered their love and solidarity. Over 30,000 people were estimated to attend even though the Tampa festivity is nicknamed “baby pride” in comparison to much larger prides in St. Petersburg and Orlando.

Yes, the inclusivity is needed but Tampa is not yet a perfectly tolerant and welcoming community.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation does a yearly analysis of major cities in the U.S. and rates them on their friendliness for the LGBT community. Tampa received an 86 out of 100, an impressive feat. However, the points it is lacking are critical to ensuring this city is truly a safe haven for all its residents.

That means the city does not include gender-affirming procedures, hormone therapy, mental health care and other gender-affirming care.

Tampa is heavily lacking in municipality equality from employers. Transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits are non-existent in Tampa. The city also received zero out of six points for having a city contractor non-discrimination ordinance.

The medically necessary treatments and procedures for transgender employees should be included in employer-provided health care and short-term disability coverage. If not fully covered, those treatments should at least be partially taken care of. Instead, most employers, and subsequently their health care plans, consider those procedures a luxury, not a necessity.

Tampa also received a zero out of 12 for reporting 2014 hate crimes statistics to the FBI.

To receive a positive score Tampa would simply have had to report hate crimes statistics to the FBI for sexual orientation and gender identity and either have reported a positive number of hate crimes in any category in 2015 or reported no hate crimes in 2015 but have reported a positive number of hate crimes within the past five years.

Tampa has done neither.

Does the city know how many hate crimes take place within its borders? Of course. However, transparency is apparently not a priority for the Bay.

How can members of the LGBT community, or any community for that matter, feel truly safe and informed if the city refused to release hate crime statistics? They say ignorance is bliss, but that mindless line of thinking does not translate when someone is considering setting down roots in a city.

Now Tampa is by no means a cesspool of corruption or bigotry. Rather, it is truly an open and welcoming city that is trying to be appealing to every demographic. The politicians seem to care about all the residents, not just a select few. Businesses publicly display their support for the LGBT community.

It’s not perfect, but it is improving. A score of 86 out of 100 is far better than the 25 for Cape Coral. We are inarguably a great place to live, but it would be naive to assume we are perfect.

There is always room for improvement and what Tampa is lacking are some serious issues.