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Florida City Declares Itself LGBTQ+ Sanctuary

Florida City Declares Itself LGBTQ+ Sanctuary

Palm Beach County Human Rights Council logo, people with pride flag

Lake Worth Beach is the first to take such an action.

Lake Worth Beach, Fla., has declared itself a sanctuary city for LGBTQ+ and intersex people as well as allies, a first for the state.

The City Commission unanimously adopted a resolution September 5 stating in part, “The City of Lake Worth Beach shall now and forever be considered a safe place, a sanctuary, a welcoming and supportive city for LGBTQIA+ individuals and their families to live in peace and comfort.”

The proclamation referred to the hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ bills being proposed around the nation along with data from the Trevor Project showing the negative effect of legislative debates on the mental health of LGBTQ+ young people.

While about 40 cities, counties, and townships in Florida have LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances, Lake Worth Beach is the first to designate itself as a sanctuary city, according to numerous Florida media outlets, citing a press release from the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.

“With so many LGBTQ+ people and allies fleeing Florida for less hostile states, we are thrilled Lake Worth Beach Mayor [Betty] Resch and the city commissioners continue to work to ensure the health, safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ people and our families,” said a statement from Rand Hoch, founder and president of the Human Rights Council.

To television station WPTV, he added, “If we can’t do anything about the people up in Tallahassee, at least we can do it here in our own backyard,” referring to anti-LGBTQ+ laws enacted by Florida legislators and signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

These include the infamous “don’t say gay” law, banning instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools; a ban on gender-affirming health care for transgender youth (temporarily blocked by court action); restrictions on trans students’ participation in school sports; regulation of drag shows; and more.

The sanctuary declaration is primarily symbolic, but Mayor Resch told WPTV that city officials will do all they can to assure that Lake Worth Beach is safe and welcoming for LGBTQ+ people. She will “personally address” anti-LGBTQ+ actions, as will city commissioners and staff, she said.

Julie Seaver, executive director of Compass LGBTQ+ Community Center, praised the commission’s move. “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,” she told the TV station.

Tallahassee, the capital city, is considering a sanctuary designation, according to the human rights group. Several cities and states around the nation have declared themselves sanctuaries to some degree, such as assuring that trans people can access gender-affirming care in those locations.

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