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Two colleges, Catholic law school group join fight for Competitive Workforce Act

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A Catholic student group and two colleges are the latest organizations to voice support for the fight for statewide discrimination protections in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

Winter Park-based Rollins College joins a coalition of 30 major Florida employers, including the University of North Florida (UNF) in Jacksonville, in supporting the Competitive Workforce Act.

The act is comprised of House Bill 33 from Republican state Rep. Holly Raschein of Key Largo and Senate Bill 156 from Democratic state Sen. Joe Abruzzo of Boynton Beach. Both bills seek to update Florida’s anti-discrimination law, creating uniformity across the state and help attract and retain employees.

“We’ve lost top candidates because of the perception of the government climate,” said UNF President John Delaney. “Some local policies have a wide, confusing array of meanings.”

The Rollins College website states its mission, which includes “a fully inclusive, just community that embraces multiculturalism.” Rollins encourages historically under-represented groups – including that of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression — to apply for employment. The school also offers domestic partner benefits.

With the addition of the Catholic Law Students Association at the University of Miami (UM) School of Law and the two colleges, nearly 300 Florida businesses and organizations are now backing the legislation.

The UM Association recently wrote to Miami Republican state Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, himself a UM Law alumnus, to urge the senator to support the measure.

A letter signed by co-presidents Thomas F. Hospod and Robert F. Riley says, “The current lack of anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT people in Florida has the effect of relegating these individuals to second-class citizenship.”

“As Christians, failing to act here would run contrary to the most sincere and crucial tenet of our faith – treating others with the essential human dignity that they inherently deserve, regardless of who they are,” the letter continues. “We are supporting this legislation because we believe and know that it is the right thing to do.”

With the passage of a Human Rights Ordinance in December, Miami-Dade County became the 28th municipality in Florida to offer fully inclusive protections. Now, more than half of Floridians live in areas with official protections for the LGBT community.

Unfortunately, inconsistencies remain for employers in other parts of the state, affecting hundreds of thousands of Floridians at risk for discrimination.

Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce, a coalition of the state’s top employers, calls for statewide protections, calling them a sound business strategy to attract the best and the brightest personnel to the Sunshine State.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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