Lake Worth Beach, Florida, made history on Tuesday as it became the first sanctuary city for the LGBTQ+ community in the state. The city commissioners voted unanimously for this groundbreaking declaration, affirming their support for the LGBTQ+ community and their families. Mayor Betty Resch stated that it is time to accept and embrace people as they are.
Mayor Resch emphasized that this declaration is just one step in making it clear that the city of Lake Worth Beach stands with the LGBTQ+ community. She highlighted the importance of making a public statement and ensuring the city is a safe space for all residents.
When asked if this was a victory for the LGBTQ+ community, Julie Seaver, the executive director of Compass LGBTQ+ Community Center, expressed her support and stated that any win is significant at this point. She mentioned that students and parents have shared their fears and concerns for the upcoming school year in Palm Beach County.
The LGBTQ+ community feels targeted by recent state legislation in Florida, making the sanctuary city designation even more crucial. Seaver emphasized the need for unity and stated that a safe city resolution provides reassurance for residents. When asked about plans to uphold the promise of safety, Mayor Resch promised to personally address the issue, with the support of the City Commission and city staff, as it is unacceptable for anyone to feel unsafe in the city.
The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC) played a key role in spearheading the initiative. According to the PBCHRC, Lake Worth Beach is the first city in Florida to declare itself a sanctuary city for the LGBTQ+ community. The organization mentioned that a similar proposal is currently being considered in Tallahassee, the capital of Florida.
For the past 35 years, the PBCHRC has been dedicated to enacting laws that promote safety and equality for all. Rand Hoch, an advocate with PBCHRC, acknowledged the unfortunate incidents that have occurred in Palm Beach County and Lake Worth Beach. He stated that having safe spaces means a lot for people, and when the state legislature doesn’t prioritize their safety, the community can make a difference locally.
Hoch also discussed the negative impact that recent legislative actions have had on Florida’s tourism and business. He stated that the LGBTQ+ community wants to convey the message that they are welcome in the state, despite these discriminatory bills. Lake Worth Beach is already home to various LGBTQ+ resources, such as Palm Beach Pride and the Compass LGBTQ+ Resource Center, as well as multiple businesses that provide safe spaces.
Julie Seaver expressed the significance of allies and allied businesses in the community, emphasizing the need to treasure and appreciate them. When asked if Lake Worth Beach is a place where the LGBTQ+ community is supported, she confidently answered that Palm Beach County, including Lake Worth Beach, is indeed a welcoming and inclusive region.