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Queer people say it’s important now – more than ever – to create safe spaces that foster joy and community. WUSF’s Daylina Miller takes you around the greater Tampa Bay region to some of these events and meet-ups to showcase queer joy and stories of hope and resilience.

Tampa and St. Petersburg are among 8 Florida cities to get a perfect score in this LGBTQ report

Lawn sign that reads "Hate has no home here" with handprints and hearts in rainbow colors.
Stephanie Colombini
Event organizers stressed the importance of creating a welcoming, supportive environment for attendees to learn.

This is the 12th year the national Human Rights Campaign has scored cities across the country on inclusive policies and ordinances. The HRC emphasizes that these scores do not necessarily reflect the best places for LGBTQ+ people to live.

Each year, the Human Rights Campaign scores cities across the country on laws, policies and services that are inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community.

This year, eight Florida cities - including Tampa and St. Petersburg - got a perfect score on the Municipal Equality Index.

The report contrasts with the slate of anti-LGBTQ+ laws that have been passed by the state legislature in recent years, including limits on gender-affirming care for transgender Floridians, bathroom rules, restrictions on pronoun use and more in schools, and efforts to restrict drag performances that had a chilling effort on pride events across the state.

RELATED: A survey shows most trans and nonbinary Floridians considered leaving the state

The state played a large part in the HRC's decision to declare a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people in the United States for the first time in its more than 40-year history.

“Florida, unfortunately, is really a leader in the anti-LGBTQ legislation space that has made it really challenging for the LGBTQ community who live in Florida."

"I think it's really important and notable that these cities have continued to fight for equality, even against the backdrop of what has been happening in the Florida legislature over the last several years,” said Cathryn Oakley, the Senior Director for Legal Policy at the Human Rights Campaign.

She said city leaders can't control what's happening in the state legislature, but they can control what's happening within their own borders.

"They won't be deterred from doing that work, because they understand that the long-term work is what will really build a prospering Florida."

St. Petersburg’s score has been perfect for the tenth year in a row.

“Not only does this accomplishment demonstrate our commitment to maintaining an inclusive environment for our LGBTQ+ community, but it shows that we embrace and affirm all residents, ensuring that our city remains a welcoming haven for everyone," said St. Petersburg Mayor Kenneth T. Welch in a news release.

Said LGBTQ Liaison Jim Nixon, "For ten years in a row, we have earned a perfect score on the HRC's Municipal Equality Index, but we have not rested on our past scores. This year, we passed an administrative policy that all single-use restrooms in City facilities be designated All-Gender. Outside Magazine recently named St. Petersburg 'One of the 15 Happiest Places to Live in the U.S.' It is about livability, and the Human Rights Campaign recognizes it."

Oakley said the scores do not necessarily reflect the best places for LGBTQ+ people to live. Rather, it reflects which cities are making an effort to be inclusive.

“I think that's a distinction that's particularly important in Florida, of course, because of the state of emergency. LGBTQ people in Florida have been living in a really, really challenging time,” Oakley said.

“The governor has been coming for them, the state legislature has been coming for them. And for far too many LGBTQ folks in Florida the state has become increasingly unlivable.”

She said despite efforts from these cities to be welcoming and inclusive, they’re going to struggle to retain the LGBTQ+ community as a result of the state legislatures actions.

But the report should give folks hope, Oakley said. Cities with perfect scores serve as a “to-do list” for other cities who aren't sure what they should be doing next - and what kinds of steps they can take.

Other than St. Petersburg and Tampa, Wilton Manors, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Miami, Oakland Park, and Orlando received perfect scores.

I took my first photography class when I was 11. My stepmom begged a local group to let me into the adults-only class, and armed with a 35 mm disposable camera, I started my journey toward multimedia journalism.