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On July 19, 2023, the 2SLGBTQIA advocacy committee began its work to support human rights for marginalized Tulsans and to move the needle forward on equity in the city.
Formed as a standing committee under Tulsa’s Human Rights Commission on May 15, the first meeting of the 18-member committee represents the culmination of a years-long effort to shine a long-term light on the issues impacting the 2SLGBTQIA community. It’s been 30 years since Tulsa had approved a similar committee
“Knowing I was in a room with so many incredible and talented leaders committed to making Tulsa a more inclusive city for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community is an empowering feeling,” Josiah Robinson told The Black Wall Street Times. As a member of the Human Rights Commission, Robinson was instrumental in turning the idea for rebirthing the committee into a reality.
“It was also an honor to support the chair of the committee, Whitney Cipolla, who leads with so much experience and grace. We have a lot of groundwork to lay, and I’m excited for the potential,” Robinson added.
Moving Tulsa to an A-grade on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index
The committee’s goal is to support efforts related to interfacing with the two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex community, identifying the needs of its members, and raising awareness about issues facing the community to foster a more safe, welcoming, and inclusive city.
To accomplish that goal, the 2SLGBTQIA Committee seeks to improve Tulsa’s score on the Municipal Equality Index.
A product of the Human Rights Campaign, the MEI examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of LGBTQ+ people who live and work there. Cities are rated based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and leadership on LGBTQ+ equality.
“One of the things I am particularly excited about is building on the work that was started almost three decades ago,” Robinson said. Back in 1992, the Human Rights Commission established a Committee on Sexual Orientation Discrimination and developed a report with recommendations that are still relevant today.
“I’m looking forward to building on that work.”
Currently, Tulsa scores 78 out of 100 on the Municipal Equality Index. In Oklahoma, Norman is the only city to achieve a score of 100. The lowest score in Oklahoma is Broken Arrow at 0.
Committee claps back at hatred from city, state and nation
From hate crimes impacting local businesses in Tulsa, to legislation at the state Capitol banning gender-affirming care, to toxic rhetoric from U.S. Congresspersons, Tulsa’s newly formed 2SLGBTQIA committee refuses to stand down in the face of such abuse.
“It’s long overdue that 2SLGBTQIA+ people have a voice and seat at decision-making tables across this city. This committee was formed in the wake of increased hostility, violence, and harmful rhetoric toward sexual and gender minorities across the city, state, and country,” Robinson said.
“While state leaders elevate hate campaigns against 2SLGBTQIA+ students, this committee proves that 2SLGBTQIA+ Tulsans will always be here and we will refuse to be silenced. This is a small but historic step.”
Members of the community who face discrimination can submit reports through the City of Tulsa website using the Human Rights Complaint Form.