HRC Training an Army for Miss. Equality | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

HRC Training an Army for Miss. Equality

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Rob Hill, director of Human Rights Campaign Mississippi/File photo

To paraphrase Cash Money's B.G.: the Human Rights Campaign is training an army—not a navy—and if you ever player hate on diversity and inclusion, it won't be gravy.

In other words: HRC Mississippi is hosting its first equality summit this weekend in Jackson, which aims to increase visibility and engagement for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality.

The summit will help participants support their LGBT friends, family members, coworkers and fellow congregants. Community members, local activists and legislators will also have the opportunity to engage on the need to pass critical legal protections for LGBT Mississippians, and talk about moving forward in a "post-marriage equality world."

Rob Hill, the executive director, of HRC Mississippi said 150 to 175 participants are expected. Trainings will focus on public-policy issues such as Initiative 42 for education funding, municipal organizing, youth as well as faith and business engagement. Hill told the Jackson Free Press that participants will get tips on how to approach business about being part of the HRC's Equality is Our Business campaign.

"It’s a great way for businesses to say we're open for everybody. We know when businesses support inclusion and diversity, that they grow and that people want to spend their money there," Hill said.

According to HRC, a 2014 survey revealed that LGBT Mississippians are active in their communities. More than half of the people HRC surveyed reported volunteering and some 60 percent donate money to charities. The survey showed that 57 percent of LGBT respondents have lived in Mississippi for more than two decades and that 10 percent of respondents have served, or were enlisted at the time, in the military.

Another training session will focus on health-care issues, including how to find providers that are welcoming. In the HRC's 2014 heath-care equality index, only one hospital received distinction as a leader in LGBT healthcare equality—the VA Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System in Biloxi.

"I like to think it's getting better but we've got a long way to go," Hill said of the state's climate for health care inclusivity.

Visit www.hrc.org/mssummit for details and information about how to register for the event that starts with an 8 a.m. breakfast.

Or, Hill said, just show up on Saturday morning: "We want anybody to come who wants to become engaged."

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