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Proud to Progress

Posted By Angela Schifani, Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Since the New York Stonewall Riots in 1969, activists, advocates and allies have been fighting to improve inclusion, protection and equal treatment of LGBTQ people in the U.S. While those initial protests began in the Big Apple, activities such as Pride Month, occur in cities across the country—even in our very own Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

 

Baton Rouge is the capital of Louisiana, a conservative state. Politics aside, conservative ideals have been historically associated with a delay in accepting the LGBTQ community. As expected, Louisiana does not necessarily have a reputation of being particularly “gay-friendly.” Since Forum 35 works to improve the city of Baton Rouge for all of its residents, we hosted a Pride Month survey! For this survey, we polled our members and other locals on their thoughts regarding how our city treats the LGBTQ community.

 

Disclaimer: we only received 31 responses to our survey, so we won't dive deep into the numbers. But we will take a look at a few statements given in the comments section, because I think they could shed some light on why Forum 35 felt the need to create the survey in the first place.

 

“We have many great progressive community organizations and events like BR Pride to create this culture of inclusiveness. However, city policies to actually protect citizens and thereby attract economic opportunities are greatly lacking.” -Anonymous survey respondent

 

We know that times change. New discoveries, ideas and technology move us forward through social and biological evolution. We as people have to change too in order to fit in the growing landscape around us. Much of Forum 35’s efforts focus on Baton Rouge’s ability to attract and maintain residents who can help keep the city relevant and progressing. In order to compete with other cities, we need to consider changing some of our “old fashioned” ideologies, practices and legislation.

 

“I think many business leaders and younger generations realize the importance of inclusivity and want to preserve it. Our elected officials are the ones that seem to have a harder time coming out in favor.” -Anonymous survey respondent

 

We keep saying that children are the future. We don’t have to develop existential dread right now, but we have to face the facts: as we age, we get closer to not being around anymore. So, quite literally, youth are the future. If younger generations are focusing on inclusivity, the rest of us should probably listen.

 

So what does that mean? We, the residents of Baton Rouge, should examine our landscape! What types of public events do we host for each other? Which venues and spaces are welcoming to everyone who lives in Baton Rouge? What laws do we have in place that protect or hurt our neighbors? Which services and resources could be helpful to those that are disenfranchised?

 

We want to hear from you! We want to know what Baton Rouge is doing right, and what we could improve, in terms of being inclusive to our LGBTQ residents. Forum 35 will start the conversation by providing a list of local groups that serve those who identify as LGBTQ, as well as other resources that have LGBTQ-informed services. This list may not be comprehensive, so please feel free to add to it in the comments below!

 

Advocacy Organizations

Baton Rouge Pride Fest

Capital City Alliance

Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) of Baton Rouge

Pride 1

Progressive Social Network

 

Student Groups

First Contact at Louisiana State University

Gay Alliance for Legal Equality (GALE) at Southern University

OUTlaw at Louisiana State University

Spectrum at Louisiana State University

The Student Equality Project at Louisiana State University

 

Health Services

HIV/Aids Alliance Region II (HAART)

Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response Center (STAR)

The Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center

 

Self Defense & Safety

Operation Blazing Sword

 

Recreation & Social

George’s Place

Red Stick Roller Derby

Splash Nightclub

 

Tags:  diversity  inclusion 

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