Tag Archives: Human rights

The Hamiltons, St. John’s Lutheran Church

The Hamiltons shepherd the St. John’s Lutheran Church Jacksonville and they are proud allies. In their original letter to us, they said they support an HRO in Jacksonville because,

“We could not in good conscience stand by while there isthe slightest possibility that one of our LGBT Sisters and Brothers can face discrimination in jobs and housing. No matter what your belief system says, this is a Human Rights Issue. Everyone has the right to make a sustainable living and not stand in fear of loosing their job for who they are or perceived to be in their sexual orientation. Qualifications should be the determining factor.”

We call them P-Ham and PV – come by and meet them at One Spark!



Rachel Vitti, Education Advocate

Rachel Vitti is the wife of Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent of Duval County Schools, mother of four, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, niece, grand-daughter, friend, teacher, education and social justice advocate. In her own words, Rachel describes why we must come out as allies in order to get the Human Rights Ordinance passed in Jacksonville: http://wp.me/p3PnKk-7e

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Ally Profile: Nancy Hogshead-Makar

Nancy Hogshead-Makar is Jacksonville’s own 3-time Olympic swimming champion from the 1984 Games. She is a life-long advocate for access and equality in athletics, internationally recognized legal expert on sports issues, scholar, and author. She has a commitment to equality, using sports as a vehicle for social change. As one of the foremost exponents for gender equity, she advocates for access and equality in sports participation, sexual harassment, sexual abuse and assault, employment, pregnancy, and legal enforcement under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and within the youth sports and Olympic movement.

Hogshead-Makar has testified in Congress numerous times on the topic of gender equity in athletics, written numerous scholarly and lay articles, and has been a frequent guest on national news programs on the topic, including 60 Minutes, Fox News, CNN, ESPN, NPR, MSNBC and network morning news programming. She serves as an expert witness in Title IX cases and has written amicus briefs representing athletic organizations in precedent-setting litigation. Her scholarship includes her book, co-authored with Andrew Zimbalist, Equal Play; Title IX and Social Change, Pregnant and Parenting Student-Athletes; Resources and Model Policies, published by the NCAA, and her book chapter, “The Ethics of Title IX and Gender Equity for Coaches” appears in The Ethics of Coaching Sports; Moral, Social and Legal Issues, edited by Robert L. Simon. Since 2003 she has been the Co-Chair of American Bar Association Committee on the Rights of Women. Sports Illustrated Magazine listed her as one of the most influential people in the history of Title IX.

Hogshead-Makar is currently the Senior Director of Advocacy for the Women’s Sports Foundation, a 29-year affiliation that started as a college intern.   She has received significant awards recognizing her commitment to athletics, including receipt of an honorary doctorate from Springfield College, induction into the Academic All-America Hall of Fame and the International Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame, the Hall of Fame for the National Association for Sports and Physical Education, and receipt of the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators’ “Honor Award”. In 2011 she was presented with the National Organization for Women’s “Courage Award,” and was inducted into the National Consortium for Academics and Sports Hall of Fame. In 2012 she was awarded the “Title IX Advocate Award” from the Alliance of Women Coaches.

Nancy is the recipient of the 2014 International Olympic Committee’s Woman of the Year for the Americas. She has been recognized as one of the foremost authorities on gender equity in sports and one of the most influential people in the history of Title IX – the groundbreaking legislation which has given women the same opportunity as men to compete in US collegiate sports.

Why is Nancy a straight ally and supporter of the HRO ordinance?

I am an ally and supporter of the HRO ordinance because human dignity and respect for who you love is a birthright.

At every level, sports participation is a powerful educational experience, and is the underlying reason I work in this field. Homophobia, in particular, is used to diminish all women’s athletic feats, as they accomplish under a cloud of sexual suspicion. Women’s heart-soaring accomplishments can’t upset traditional notions of femininity too much as they become stronger, highly skilled and more ambitious. Therefore, questions about boyfriends and future plans of marriage are practically obligatory, and not just in the media.

So while most LGBTQ athletes suffer, my lesbian teammates suffered uniquely. Straight women may be afraid of supporting their lesbian teammates for fear they might be seen as lesbians themselves. Women athletes are all running from the same shame and discrimination, rather than affirming our life’s pursuits and our selves.

So it’s no wonder so many of my lesbian teammates didn’t share their sexuality with me until long after we’d finished competing. That saddens me – that they didn’t see me as safe. I love my family with my whole being, and I bring that enthusiasm with me to practically every conversation. I can’t imagine not being able to share the people I love with the world, for fear of discrimination. How painful. I want all of my lesbian and gay friends’ humanity. That includes their ability to share joyfully their life’s loves with as much passion and freedom as I share about mine without fear of loss.

What if the stigma of same-sex relationships didn’t exist? The suspicion of being a lesbian could no longer be used to marginalize women in sports, and we’d all be healthier and more productive.

The Jacksonville Human Rights Ordinance will be a solid step towards making this dream a reality.


See Nancy’s Straight Ally Video Statement here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=364dJ3hv_OY

Ally Profile: Rachel Vitti

Rachel Vitti is the wife of Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent of Duval County Schools, mother of four, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, niece, grand-daughter, friend, teacher, education and social justice advocate.  She is a former public school teacher who served students in Winston-Salem, NC and Harlem, NY.  Rachel has spent the last ten years dedicated to nurturing and educating her four children ages 4-10.  Aside from focusing on their development, she has also served as an advocate for exceptional-student issues within the public school system – namely students with specific learning disabilities. She has empowered parents with information and strategies to navigate the education system and improve access to appropriate resources for their children. Rachel holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Wake Forest University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Salem College.

In her own words, Rachel describes why we must come out as allies in order to get the Human Rights Ordinance passed in Jacksonville:

The sobering fact is that less than 50 years ago, without the voice of allies, I would have been arrested and jailed for displaying my human right to love a man, who shares my heart, brings me to a poignant pause.  Less than 50 years ago, without the voice of allies, my four bi-racial children would have been deemed to be illegitimate and would not have been given the protections and privileges afforded to the children of lawfully wedded parents.

Less than 50 years ago, allies stood to bring a voice to Mildred and Richard Loving and their three children, so they too could benefit from America’s Promise. The 1967 Supreme Court Case of Loving v. Virginia was a pivotal civil rights decision that invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage. That decision was a culmination of collaborative efforts of people around the nation.

Today, on the shoulders of those who have stood tall, and those still standing, I am coming out as a Straight Ally to expand the Jacksonville Human Rights Ordinance to include our LGBT families. As a mother raising four young citizens, it is essential that I exhibit a civic duty to ensure that all people can be open, honest, and safe in their home, school, work, and community, without fear.  It is important to help victims of intolerance and hate, fight for their basic human rights.

Although I am a new member of this city, I expect Jacksonville to live-up to the motto of “The Bold New City of the South” and move towards full equality for everyone. To me, this matter is quite simple; afford the same justices and dignity to your neighbors for the betterment of our community. My responsibility to my community and to my family includes supporting those families that may not look like mine, worship the same as mine, or speak the same language as mine.

I challenge the greater Jacksonville community to reach out, join the coalition, and support their neighbors, regardless of race, gender, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital or familial status, pregnancy or ancestry, AND sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. In the words of Mildred Loving, “that’s what Loving, and loving are all about.”

Rachel Vitti_FP_new logo


PRESS: Straight Allies featured on Equality Florida Blog

We’d like to thank our partners at Equality Florida for mentioning our campaign recently on their blog: http://eqfl.org/jaxhro/straightallies

They have been on location in Jacksonville, for the past several weeks now, working with the Human Rights Campaign and the Jacksonville Committee for Equality to pass a fully-inclusive Human Rights Ordinance (HRO), an anti-discrimination policy based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. We Are Straight Allies will be here to help fully support their efforts!

“To pass this HRO, we will all need to work together” – Jess Osborn, Statewide Outreach Coordinator, Equality Florida