Organization says Longboat names are insensitive and demands new ones.
APRIL FOOLS -- Names of nearly a dozen streets and landmarks in Longboat Key have no place in 21st century society and should be changed immediately, according to a social-justice organization that threatens to take the town to court.
Jewfish Key, Jungle Queen Way, White Key, Beer Can Island, Sister Keys, Bishops Bayou, Quick Point Park and four streets in Country Club Shores were directly named as offensive, insensitive or both.
WOKE, a Portland, Ore., group which rose to prominence after its legal campaign to end the practice of referring to ships with feminine pronouns without first asking, said it agreed to take on the advocacy case as a follow-up to an online petition signed by Sarasota-area millennials – including all 10 from Longboat Key.
Libby R. Errol, a spokeswoman from WOKE (which claims to be so aware of social issues that WOKE "doesn’t actually have to stand for anything"), said while many of the island’s landmarks might have a connection to significant regional history, quaint local lore or in one case, a Bogart film, little of that matters and planners would never make such choices today.
“So, where do we even start?” Errol said. “Racism, misogyny, insensitivity to those suffering with alcohol issues, elitism that smacks of the 1 percenters of the world, gender-identification issues. So, I could go on and on. And don’t call me a spokeswoman.’’
Calls for comment to the town on the growing controversy were referred to a specialist legal practice that has defended cities and counties from similar legal action in the last few years.
“Well, this isn’t really a legal action, is it?” said Cassius DeBellatio, a lawyer in the Tampa-based firm of Belli, Ringer and Sound, which in 2019 successfully defended Indialantic, Fla., from a demand to change its name to Indigenalantic. “We’ll address this if and when we need to address it. That is to say, if that group of kids can pry itself from Minecraft long enough to actually file something. And even if they do, we have no responsibility, no requirement to change anything.’’
Errol said her group of volunteers plans to move forward with a campaign of awareness-raising and alternative-name suggestions in the hopes of opening a conversation designed to potentially sway public opinion even if a formal legal action is unsuccessful.
- Sloop, Ketch, Schooner and Yawl lanes all needlessly deliver a message of privilege and needlessly “pour ice water on the hopes and dreams of the community as a whole.’’
- Sister Keys should be renamed “Female Sibling That Identifies as She/Her Keys.’’ Erroll said the suggestion is a more accurate representation of the world today that doesn’t rely on “your male parent’s view of how things are.’’
- Beer Can Island should be renamed Six Pack Island. “No need to trigger a huge segment of our population and make them feel unwelcome. Six pack of beer, six back of spiked seltzer, Dr Pepper, almond milk, water, Snapple. It’s way more inclusive.’’
- Jungle Queen Way should be renamed Katharine Hepburn Way. “She was wonderful in that film, though so many people keep masculine-izing it and calling it Humphrey Bogart’s finest work. Plus, the LGBT community isn't crazy about the word Queen.’’
- Jewfish Key becomes Gefilte Fish Key. “It’s just more accurate.’’
- Quick Point Nature Preserve should be renamed We Had Fun, Didn't We? Point Nature Preserve. “With so much attention needlessly focused on body types, why must we denigrate those who aren’t quite as ‘quick’ with a name that excludes and shames and constantly pushes an agenda of competition and winning over all else?’’
Town leaders have had little to say on the topic and have had no comment on what a potential settlement might look like or how much it might cost.
Residents have questioned the practical side of such wholesale changes, especially if forced to be accomplished in a short period of time.
“I’m as connected to the kids today and their stuff as anyone,’’ said Johnson Evinrude, a local boater. "But when you’re out on the water, and it’s dark and raining and you’re looking at a GPS screen just trying to get home, by the time you read the name Female Sibling That Identifies as She/Her Keys, you’ve probably run aground.
“Then the environmentalists will be after you. A regular guy just can’t win.’’