LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — The city of Lake Worth Beach became a sanctuary city for the LGBTQ+ community and their families on Tuesday, the first of its kind in Florida.
The commissioners voted unanimously for the declaration.
"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.
Resch said the declaration is just another step in letting people know that the city of Lake Worth Beach has taken a stand.
"Would you call today a victory for the LGBTQ+ community?" WPTV reporter Joel Lopez asked Julie Seaver, the executive director of Compass LGBTQ+ Community Center.
"Absolutely, we'll take any win we can at this point," Seaver said.
This comes as the LGBTQ+ community claims state legislation passed in Florida targets them.
According to Seaver, students and parents have expressed through Compass fears and concerns for the new school year in Palm Beach County
"Most importantly, 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," Seaver said.
"What's your plan of action to continue that promise to keep them safe?" Lopez asked the mayor.
"I will personally address that, and the City Commission will address that, and the city staff will address that because that is not acceptable," Resch said.
The move was spearheaded by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.
According to the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, Lake Worth Beach is the first city in Florida to declare as a sanctuary city for the LGBTQ+ community.
It said a similar proposal is underway in Tallahassee.
For the past 35 years, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council has worked to enact laws to make things safe and equal for all.
"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, said. "If we can't do anything about the people up in Tallahassee, at least we can do it here in our own backyard."
Hoch said legislators in Tallahassee are passing bills that make people feel unwanted in Florida and it's impacting locals and visitors alike.
"We are losing a lot of tourism. We're losing a lot of business," Hoch said. "We want to let people know you that 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."
Lake Worth Beach is home to Palm Beach Pride, the Compass LGBTQ+ Resource Center and multiple businesses considered safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community.
"We can't do it alone and allies and allied business and community members are a huge part of the community, and we need to treasure them just as much," Seaver said.
"And do we have that in Lake Worth Beach?" Lopez asked.
"Absolutely, I think we have that in Palm Beach County," Seaver answered.