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“Ospreys don’t leave Ospreys behind;” SG backs revamped human rights in Jacksonville before ordinance pulled

Video by Mark Judson

UNF Student Government (SG) passed a bill on Feb. 8 showing support for Jacksonville City Councilman Tommy Hazouri’s version of an expanded Human Rights Ordinance. 

Human Rights Ordinances prohibit discrimination against people for things such as housing, employment and businesses based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion. Jacksonville’s current ordinance fails to cover people based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The SG bill cited a CDC study that reported LGBT youth were nearly twice as likely to commit suicide as their heterosexual peers. The bill said discrimination for one’s sexual orientation or gender identity could “adversely affect a UNF student’s academic performance.” 

“The (bill) that was passed is a proclamation of the will and the position of Student Government,” said Christopher Jordan, the SG Senator who authored the bill.

This week,  Hazouri withdrew the bill he wrote that would have expanded the city’s current Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) to include people within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community.

Spinnaker spoke with Hazouri who expressed concerns over securing enough votes in City Council to pass the measure. If it were to fail, the bill would have to wait a full year before being voted on again, according to Hazouri. 

When asked why the HRO should be expanded by a City Council vote rather than put on a ballot, Hazouri said, “You don’t vote by referendum on people’s rights.” 

“You don’t vote for human rights. Why should other people be excluded… they should not,” said Hazouri.

Hazouri talks about Jacksonville keeping up with human rights Photo by Mark Judson
Hazouri talks about Jacksonville keeping up with human rights Photo by Mark Judson

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry recently prohibited “all forms of employment discrimination upon any bases” for city hiring but believes further legislation should not be created and has opposed Hazouri’s bill.

“Mayor Curry needs to see this,” Senator Katherine Thames said at the Feb. 11 Senate meeting in reference to the SG-supported bill. A copy of the SG bill was sent to the mayor’s office, the Jacksonville City Council, the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality and UNF President John Delaney. Despite Hazouri withdrawing his version, SG believes they have sent a strong message to city leaders by expressing their position.
“I’m definitely disappointed that the bill got withdrawn,” said Jordan in response. “Nonetheless, I’m glad that Student Government let the students know where we stand on this issue.”

“I feel as though this school is more my home than my actual house is at times,” said Jordan. “I view all Ospreys as a big 16,000 member family. And one of the principles I like to bring to Student Government is the idea that Ospreys don’t leave Ospreys behind.”


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