August 3, 2016 at 2:01 pm EST | by Steve Charing
LGBT safe spaces in Md. mapped out
safe spaces, gay news, Washington Blade, safe space

‘If there’s even one place in some of Maryland’s communities where LGBT people feel safe, that’s something we want them to know,’ said Matt Thorn. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The newly formed non-profit Pride Foundation of Maryland announced the launch of an LGBT Safe Spaces Project. This consists of a map that displays which Maryland businesses agree to honor the LGBTQ community and uphold key standards.

Those standards make certain: 1) all employees will treat every LGBT patron with dignity and respect, which includes equal levels of customer service; 2) all employees refrain from using slurs directed at LGBT people; 3) all employees understand displays of affection by LGBT people are no more or less indecent than similar displays of affection by non-LGBT people; and 4) employees will intervene on behalf of LGBT people when these standards are being ignored by other customers and patrons.

For a business to participate, the owner or general manager simply completes a “Commitment to be an LGBT Safe Space,” providing the location and other relevant information about the business.

“We’ll then confirm their commitment to these standards and add them to the map,” says Brian Gaither, one of the founders of the Pride Foundation of Maryland.

Since commencing on July 19, more than 40 locations have been added including four houses of worship, Gaither tells the Blade. “We’ve identified places in Washington, Carroll, Montgomery, Anne Arundel, Harford, and Talbot Counties as well as Baltimore City. We have cafés, restaurants, bars and salons. Other businesses, primarily in professional services, have also stepped up.”

He urges members of the LGBTQ community to identify supportive local businesses and ask them to formalize their commitment to be a safe space for LGBTQ people. “They’ll be in good company if they do,” says Gaither. “Chase Brexton Health Care, the Hotel Brexton, Parts & Labor, Charmington’s, Single Carrot Theatre and others are already on the map.”

Amanda Rothschild of Charmington’s, a café on N. Howard Street in Baltimore, explains, “This is a no-brainer to us. We’ve had a number of LGBT partners and employees here, and we’ve been public supporters of LGBT rights since we opened.”

Foundation board member Matt Thorn says, “If there’s even one place in some of Maryland’s communities where LGBT people feel safe, that’s something we want them to know. Over time, we’re confident more businesses will join the program.”

For more information about the program and to view the map, visit pridemd.org.

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