Gainesville, Florida, USA downtown cityscape at dusk.

Gainesville named best city for LGBTQ+ inclusion by Human Rights Campaign

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The city of Gainesville, home of the University of Florida, has been named among the best municipalities for LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion by the Human Rights Campaign in its 9th annual Municipal Equality Index. The Human Rights Campaign, which supports LGBTQ+ individuals, allies and institutions with resources via a set of comprehensive programs, created its list based on a nationwide assessment of LGBTQ+ equality regarding municipal policy, law and services.

Gainesville earned an almost perfect score of 95 out of a possible 100 points and is one of eight cities in Florida with the most LGBTQ+ protections and policies (scoring at least 85 or higher) on the 2020 Municipal Equality Index.

“I think it’s wonderful to hear that we’ve been named in that company,” David Arreola, Gainesville City Commissioner, told The Gainesville Sun. “Certainly we don’t do these things for recognition but for a long time now we’ve always had a wonderfully inclusive community. The LGBTQ community has always been part of Gainesville’s heartbeat.”

Gainesville and the University of Florida are home to a number of LGBTQ+ organizations. UF’s Multicultural and Diversity Affairs office is home to the LGBTQ+ Affairs group, while the Pride Student Union and QTPOC Collective are student run organizations. The city is also home to the Pride Community Center, the Human Rights Council of North Central Florida and TranQuility.

As with other cities across the nation, Gainesville was scored in five areas:

  • If discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is prohibited by the city, county or state in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations
  • If LGBTQ+ employees are offered equal benefits and protections in the municipality workplace
  • If LGBTQ+ constituents are included in city services and programs
  • If law enforcement engages in responsible reporting of hate crimes and engages with the LGBTQ+ community in a respectful way
  • If city leadership is committed to fully include the LGBTQ+ community and advocates for full equality

Gainesville’s LGBTQ+ support and non-discrimination laws related to housing, employment and public accommodations earned it perfect scores. It also earned bonus points for its 2018 ban on conversion therapy, which Alachua County also banned in 2019.

Gainesville’s law enforcement also earned top marks for it’s perfect scores in having an LGTBQ+ liaison/task force in the department and reporting 2018 hate crime statistics to the FBI.

Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe told The Gainesville Sun he was proud of the city’s inclusivity, but it can always do more for its LGBTQ+ community.

“I don’t want to hide from the fact that there are things we still can do, particularly with teen support in the LGBTQIA community, especially the homeless community,” Poe said to The Gainesville Sun. “It’s not a one-way process with (the HRC), I think they’ve pointed out some really great strengths of ours but also showed us some opportunities that have room for improvement.”