Lake Worth Beach, South Florida, has become the first city in the Sunshine State to declare itself a safe haven for LGBTQ+ people.
“Protecting Human Rights for All Individuals”
City commissioners voted unanimously to declare the city a safe haven for LGBTQ people, approving a resolution reiterating the city’s commitment to “protecting human rights for all individuals.”
“The City of Lake Worth Beach shall now and forever be considered a safe place, a sanctuary, a welcoming and supportive city for LGBTQ+ individuals and their families to live in peace and comfort,” the resolution said.
Lake Worth Beach, nestled in Palm Beach County, Florida, is home to slightly over 38,000 residents. Positioned along the southeastern coastline of Florida, this city graces the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Often simply called “Lake Worth,” it is situated south of West Palm Beach.
Florida has gained notoriety due to its anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, which has been approved by the Republican-dominated legislature and endorsed by Governor Ron DeSantis.
Lake Worth Beach commissioners approved the resolution following discussions with local community members who expressed concerns about Florida’s political atmosphere and the proposed legislation affecting the LGBTQ+ community.
Almost 500 Bills Threatening To Roll Back the Rights of LGBTQ+ People
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, close to 500 bills threatening to roll back the rights of LGBTQ+ people were introduced this year by lawmakers in more than 40 states, and 84 of them became laws.
The new batch of laws introduced this summer restrict the LGBTQ+ community’s access to gender-affirming healthcare, prohibit transgender individuals from using restrooms associated with their gender identity, and limit discussions of gender and sexuality in public school classrooms.
Florida Is a Hostile Environment for LGBTQ+ People
Equality Florida and the Human Rights Campaign, which advocate for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, have warned against travel to Florida, citing the hostile environment amid a slew of bills targeting community members.
LGBTQ+ rights advocates this week described Tuesday’s vote to declare Lake Worth Beach an LGBTQ+ sanctuary as a step in the right direction.
“I think it’s time to take a stand that we affirmatively accept the people as they are,” Lake Worth Beach Mayor Betty Resch said Tuesday.
Safe for Our LGBTQ+ Friends Who Have Had To Live In Fear Under Governor DeSantis’s Attacks
“If we can’t do anything about the people up in Tallahassee, at least we can do it here in our own backyard,” Rand Hoch, president and founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, which was at the helm of the resolution effort, told WPTV.
“This is a huge step in making Florida safe again for all communities — especially for our LGBTQ+ friends who have had to live in fear under Governor DeSantis’s attacks,” said Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Nikki Fried.
Florida’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws are driving transgender people out of state, according to a survey by Human Rights Campaign.
Lake Worth Beach Is the First Florida City To Declare Itself a Sanctuary for LGBTQ+ People
Since signing the infamous Parental Rights in Education Act, known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has continued by enacting a slate of laws targeting the state’s LGBTQ+ community.
DeSantis and Florida legislators say that these laws make Florida safer for children and safeguard parents’ rights.
Meanwhile, LGBTQ advocates and the transgender community in the state say that they create a hostile environment in the state that has many gay and transgender communities.
… Championing LGBTQ+-Friendly Policies
While Lake Worth Beach is the first Florida city to declare itself a sanctuary for LGBTQ+ people officially, it is not the first in the state to champion LGBTQ+-friendly policies.
A 2016 report from Equality Florida found that at least 40 cities had passed local ordinances strengthening sexual orientation and gender identity protections.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / ViDI Studio. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.
Source: The Hill