**UPDATE as of April 9, 2014; 8:30am**
We Are Straight Allies deeply appreciates the outpouring of community support in response to our previous statement to Parkway Properties. At this time, we have been told our signage is “allowed to remain” up through the duration of the One Spark event. Therefore, we will stay in our current location at the Juice Gallery in the Wells Fargo Tower located at 1 Independent Drive, Jacksonville, Florida.
Once the One Spark Festival has ended, We Are Straight Allies would like the opportunity to meet with Parkway Properties and their “key stakeholders” to discuss issues of bias and discrimination against the LGBT community, and their straight allies. We would also be happy to conduct diversity training for their senior leadership and staff, as this is a crucial component to our mission as we work towards the passage of a fully comprehensive Human Rights Ordinance in the city of Jacksonville.
We hope to see you all at One Spark!
**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**
We Are Straight Allies would like to publicly express our deep concern and disappointment regarding statements made by Parkway Properties on April 8, 2014 on behalf of several of their “key stakeholders” in the Wells Fargo Tower at 1 Independent Drive in Jacksonville, Florida. As a registered One Spark Creator Project, We Are Straight Allies has spent the past several months preparing an intentional and educational advocacy campaign. During that time, we were not informed of any issues surrounding our campaign or materials chosen for the event.
When we were told there were building tenants that were uncomfortable with the content of our campaign and wanted us removed from the Creator Venue space, we were disheartened as it served as a stark reminder of the daily bigotry that faces our LGBT family.
While we appreciate the support of Wells Fargo, JCCI, OneSpark and several members of the Jacksonville community to help us resolve this matter, it does not detract from the fact that homophobia and discrimination are insidious in our city. As allies, we have made a firm commitment to champion the rights of those marginalized in our community. Fifty years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we again stand at the crossroads of freedom and equality.
We hope this unfortunate incident will serve as a catalyst for meaningful dialogue to reach better understanding of our differences, help us find common ground upon which to stand, and create a more inclusive city for us all. The larger issue remains that if these companies discriminate against allies, we fear their LGBT employees may face even greater bias. The time is now to pass a comprehensive Human Rights Ordinance.
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
Chevara Orrin, Laura Riggs and Dan Bagan