Broward County has the most same-sex couples of anywhere in Florida, and it’s rated as a top 20 LGBTQ vacation destination.
But a year ago, when the Community Foundation of Broward held listening sessions, they heard stories about passive bias and continuing discrimination.
“We heard that there is still pervasive discrimination and stigma that LGBT residents face here in Broward County,” said Sheri Brown, vice president of grants and initiatives at the foundation.
The results prompted the foundation to launch its Broward Pride program, giving grants for a total of $300,000 to five organizations to create new, county-wide LGBTQ-inclusive initiatives. Three of the organizations are not LGBTQ-based and they applied to build better policy and ally programming. The two other organizations developing new programming are LGBTQ-specific.
Brown said the goal is to change the work culture inside of Broward.
“We’re getting those organizations to think differently in how they approach their work, and to really think more broadly about the clients they serve and to be hypersensitive to who’s coming through their doors,” Brown said.
Joe Trembly is the Homeless Management Security Officer at Keystone Halls, a sober living facility, and one of the organizations that received a grant from the foundation.
As someone in the LGBTQ community who has experienced homelessness, he believes safe housing is one way to make people feel more wanted by their community.
“I felt like I was always on the outside looking in,” Trembly said. “And that’s how the community feels. And, you know, we have a lot of services, there’s just parts of it where we don’t feel wanted.”
Keystone Halls is getting new beds to house up to 45 LGBTQ homeless over the next year; they're people who need a safe place to transition to permanent housing.
Fort Lauderdale’s Museum of Discovery and Science (MOD) also received a grant to start an LGBTQ task force.
Joseph Cox took over as MOD’s new president and CEO in February 2018, replacing Kim Cavendish, who served in the role for 30 years. Cox said that whether it’s future marketing or adding to science programs, he wants to increase how welcoming the museum feels for everyone.
“Whether it’s what a family looks like or coastal resiliency and climate change, the museum really wants to be a forum for those ongoing conversations the community is having,” Cox said.
The additional grants the Community Foundation of Broward awarded went to Nova Southeastern University’s Art Museum, SunServe and Equality Florida.
NSU plans to connect up to 700 LGBTQ youth and senior citizens to a new program called “A Sense of Pride,” and showcase new artworks that highlight the LGBTQ experience.
SunServe is an LGBTQ organization that is working to develop a new LGBTQ sensitivity training program to be implemented at six to-be-selected Broward cities.
Equality Florida will be using the foundation grant money to start a Safe and Healthy Schools program to add inclusion counselors for LGBTQ students in Broward County Schools.
"We know if we put resources towards organizations changing their structure, changing their culture, being able to create unique programs and services that meet the unique needs of the LGBT community - we're going to get further along in terms of reaching that goal of inclusion and acceptance in Broward," Brown said.