13 Apr Richie Knight Hosts an Athens LGBTQ Community Dialogue
On Thursday, a group of 20 men and women of Athens convened at Richie Knight’s campaign headquarters to discuss local issues impacting the LGBTQ community. This diverse group talked through their years of living in Athens and how challenging it has been to be openly gay during the current political climate.
There were several consistent themes that came from this dialogue, facilitated by Kelvin Rutledge at the University of Georgia. Several participants strongly agreed that Athens lacks a safe space for youth and adults experiencing discrimination based upon their sexual orientation. They highlighted that resources for this community are heavily lacking outside of UGA.
Many questions were posed to Knight to look into from the group, such as: Does Athens-Clarke County Police receive training on LGBTQ issues? How will local enforcement house someone that identifies as transgender? What is being done to increase foot and bicycle patrol downtown so that we can feel safer?
In 2017, at least four incidents of attacks against the LGBTQ persons were reported. Personal safety has become a major concern within this community. Knight has been very vocal of the personal attacks that he and his partner have encountered downtown over the past year.
Participants had similar thoughts on how difficult it is for someone new to Athens to connect with other members of the community. There seems to be no central gathering space or consistent set of events targeted to support them. They voiced the importance of mobilization and educating the greater Athens community on issues they face on a daily basis.
“Everyone that attended tonight has a clear passion for Athens,” said Knight. “We all want to do what we can to improve and make this an open community where anyone that comes here feels like they are free to live how they choose. I’m excited to get conversations like this off the ground and hope that we can further partner with Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement to keep this momentum going. I will continue to work tirelessly to inform our city on how crucial an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance and Human Relations Council are to making this a community that’s truly for everyone.”