The Battle of Largo

Council when one of its members stated publicly how surprisingly well the presentations went.
Speaking on behalf of FORGE were many including Janice Carney and Dr. Kathleen Farrell with the latter brining a round of applause from the pro-inclusion side.
On the day of the city council meeting each speaker came up to the podium and presented their case
either for or against GLTB inclusion. One by one, of what seemed like an endless train of people, each
stepped up and supported their positions. This process continued until shortly before 11PM at which
time the presentations ended and the voting began. Though the arguments strongly
favoured the pro-inclusion side, the vote was to not be in favor of inclusion.
In a surprise decision one key council person changed her mind and decided to vote against the HRO. Commissioner Charlie Harper started the push for a citywide human rights ordinance – and,
in the end, he voted against it. In the weeks following the vote, editorials, articles and other commentaries from both the media and general public criticized Largo for its By; Bobbie Vazquez No Largo is not a distant country or perhaps some dark place in middle earth near Mordor. Rather Largo is a mid-size city in Pinellas county . None the less, Largo was also a place in which a battle took place for basic human rights. With battle lines drawn between the religious right, local businesses, FORGE and its allies rallied around the call for human rights. The primary objective was defined to secure the basic human rights for the GLTB community. The preparation for this effort began several days before the actual battle. A preparatory meeting was held where members of FORGE and pro-inclusion Largo citizens met at Christ the Cornerstone Church. While at Christ the Cornerstone Church the attendees participated in discussions of strategies and practiced presentations. Von New from Florida Equality had provided a class with mock presentations. Each presenter was critiqued on their presentation and given input from the audience as to how improvements might be made. Later this effort would be recognized by the City direction concerning the human rights ordnance. Some writers even cited the similarities of the human rights struggles in the early sixties and how it parallels the current struggles.
Though the battle of Largo was lost, the pro-inclusion forces did win a victory in Largo . On Sept 30 2003 the St. Petersburg TIMES reported that a police officer was placed on paid leave for making a racial slur. The investigation came on the heels of several other examples of racial incidents in Largo. Earlier, in November 2002, a Fire Department Lieutenant was terminated for making a similar racial slur. With a weak employee policy being a potential legal and financial liability to the City began to revise it’s policy to include providing a safe work environment for transgender individuals. On
Oct 7 the revised internal employee policy was passed 7 to 0 for affording protections to transgender employees. Perhaps this was the first step towards a complete HRO.

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