People waving flags & celebrating at the LGBTQ+ Miami Beach Pride Parade in Florida — Courtesy: Shutterstock — Atomazul
The first municipality in Florida to formally designate itself as an LGBTQ+ sanctuary is located in South Florida.
The decision was approved by a unanimous vote of the Lake Worth Beach city commission on Tuesday, according to NBC station WPTV.
Concerns about recently passed laws directed at LGBTQ+ persons were raised by community members, particularly parents, educators, and kids, according to city council members and supporters. The mayor of Lake Worth Beach, Betty Resch, committed to collaborating with the municipal council to develop a plan of action that would promote LGBTQ+ individuals and make them feel comfortable.
“This is a crucial time for all of us to come together and stand in unity that the city is publicly making a statement, in black and white, and a resolution that it is a safe city for all of its residents,” Julie Seaver, Executive Director of Compass LGBTQ+ Community Center, told WPTV.
The region of South Florida is thought to be more liberal than the rest of the state. Despite having successful LGBTQ-owned companies and hosting Palm Beach Pride, Lake Worth Beach’s LGBTQ+ population is still in need of safe spaces, according to supporters.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had incidents throughout Palm Beach County. We’ve had incidents here in Lake Worth Beach and to have safe spaces means a lot for people,” Rand Hoch, with the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, told WPTV. “If we can’t do anything about the people up in Tallahassee, at least we can do it here in our own backyard.”
Hoch contends that the allegedly anti-LGBTQ+ legislation has hurt Florida’s reputation in addition to its citizens.
“We are losing a lot of tourism. We’re losing a lot of business,” Hoch told WPTV. “We want to let people know that you are welcome here if you’re gay, lesbian, or trans. And that’s an important statement to make these days because what people are hearing is the exact opposite.”
Advocates in Tallahassee are also lobbying for the designation of the city as an LGBTQ+ sanctuary city by local legislators.
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