Key Facts   

All hardworking people - including those who are gay and transgender - should be treated fairly and equally by the law, and should have the opportunity to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families. Nobody should have to live in fear of being fired for reasons that having nothing to do with their job performance.

While it is illegal to discriminate in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap or marital status, Florida law does not protect individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. There is also no protection from this discrimination under Federal law.

The link between strong anti-discrimination laws and the ability to draw the best and the brightest is the reason that 84 percent of the nation’s largest companies have adopted comprehensive non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Updating the law in Jacksonville will not end discrimination overnight. However, it will be one more tool to ensure that all people are treated fairly and equally.

To date, 21 states, more than 250 cities across the country, and 33 counties and municipalities right here in Florida have passed and successfully implemented these kinds of laws with no increase in public safety incidents. As a result, nearly 60% of all Floridians already enjoy fully inclusive non-discrimination protections under local Human Rights Ordinances. For Jacksonville to remain competitive and attract and retain all talented employees, this update to our non-discrimination law is necessary.

6 Myths and Facts about the HRO:

Myth #1
Non-discrimination laws will create a “flood” of litigation.
Fact: Experience with state and local laws has shown this is not true. According to a 2015 report by the Jacksonville General Counsel, in states and Florida municipalities with non-discrimination laws that included sexual orientation and gender identity, there was no substantial increase in litigation or burden to local governments.

Myth #2
Religious organizations who are opposed to homosexuality would have to compromise their beliefs and hire gay or trans people.
Fact: Right now, the non-discrimination laws in effect in Jacksonville forbids discrimination on the basis of religion. However, under the First Amendment, the Florida Civil Rights Law, and the existing HRO in effect now, religious groups have some exemptions from that restriction for a good reason:  if the group is teaching or advocating religious beliefs, it is reasonable for the group to be employing only people who share those religious beliefs.  For that reason, religious groups are exempted - under section 402.209 of the ordinance that is currently in effect - from having to hire people whose religious beliefs conflict with their own. This protects a Baptist church from being forced to hire a Muslim or a Jew or even a Presbyterian.

Myth #3
The legislation will require Christian schools to hire gay or transgender people.
Fact: Any school associated with a religion or a religious organization, as well as any school with a curriculum designed to advance any particular religion, would be exempt from non-discrimination laws.

Myth #4
Non-discrimination laws would give gay people special rights.
Fact: Currently Jacksonville’s nondiscrimination policy includes protections in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodation.  Discrimination protections in employment for city employees include race, color, religion, political affiliation, gender, national origin, disability, age, marital status.  This list of those protected from discrimination for other employers in Jacksonville includes race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age and disability. Public accommodation protections include race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy, disability, marital status, or familial status. Housing protections include race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, familial status, or marital status.  The current protections for employment, housing, and public accommodation do not provide local protections for residents and visitors who experience discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. 

Myth #5
This legislation will hurt small businesses across the county.
Fact: Non-discrimination laws apply to employers with more than 15 employees. This is the same threshold provided under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which has been the template for this type of law for over half a century

Myth #6
Gender Identity protections will allow male sexual predators to dress as women and assault women in public bathrooms
Fact: Nothing in this law changes the fact that it is illegal to enter a restroom to harm or sexually harass people or invade their privacy. Any predator who tries to enter a women’s restroom would be subject to arrest and prosecution. In the cities, counties, and states that have inclusive non-discrimination protections none have reported an increase in public safety incidents as a result.