Three Questions for Florida’s First LGBTQ Consumer Advocate

by HRC Staff

HRC Board of Governors member Nik Harris has been appointed Florida’s first LGBTQ Consumer Advocate.

Post submitted by former HRC Digital Media Manager Helen Parshall

HRC Board of Governors member Nik Harris has been appointed Florida’s first LGBTQ Consumer Advocate. The announcement was made recently by Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried.

“We're building a Department that represents all Floridians, and it's paramount that LGBTQ Floridians have a voice in defending their safety, economic security, and well-being,” Fried said in a statement. “I'm pleased to have Nik Harris as our LGBTQ Consumer Advocate, helping safeguard consumer rights within this underserved community.”

From joining HRC in 2013 to serving on the Dolphin Democrats' Board of Directors and as an a LGBTA Democratic Caucus member, Harris is a powerful force for LGBTQ equality in the Sunshine State.

HRC caught up with Harris to chat about what her appointment means for Florida’s LGBTQ community.

1. What will your position entail?

I will serve as the department’s liaison to Florida’s LGBTQ community, raising awareness about opportunities within the agriculture industry and helping address discrimination and fraud targeting the LGBTQ community. This is the first position of its kind in Florida. I am so thankful to the commissioner for this opportunity and for her commitment to equality. It is an honor and privilege to serve this community and the commissioner.

2. Tell us a bit about the work to move equality forward in Florida. What are some of the goals for the work ahead?

There is a lot of work to be done in Florida and across the country to ensure equality for all, and Florida must be a leader when it comes to combatting LGBTQ discrimination. No one should be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The broader goal for the state would be to pass a statewide non-discrimination law. It’s paramount that LGBTQ Floridians have equal protections. In this position, I hope to advocate and educate on behalf of the LGBTQ community and the Department of Agriculture because many people in the LGBTQ community are unaware of the services the department offers. The commissioner and I want to make those services common knowledge to everyone in the community.

3. What's your message to other LGBTQ folks looking to get involved in their communities?

My message is to simply get out there and do it. There are so many opportunities to get involved in the community. Learn who your elected officials are and contact them. Join a caucus or other organizations that are working toward making changes in your city or state. Attend town hall meetings so you can make your voice heard. Also, support organizations like HRC or Equality Florida that are already doing the work.