Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Lake Worth Beach resolution takes aim at bullying

Lake Worth Beach City Commissioners unanimously adopted a resolution on November 5, 2019 aimed at eliminating bullying and harassment in city facilities and at programs provided the city.

The resolution was proposed by City Commissioner Omari Hardy, following a request by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC) -- Florida's oldest independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

PBCHRC provided Hardy with examples of children who were bullied not only because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, but also because of other personal characteristics such as race, gender,  religion, physical appearance, body size, citizenship status, family income, academic ability, ethnicity, and disability.

"One of the most important tasks city officials are  charged with is ensuring the safety and well-being of our youngest residents," said PBCHRC President and Founder Rand Hoch. " Commissioner Hardy intorduced the resolution because he realized that Lake Worth Beach needed to take additional steps to eliminate bullying."

"Nothing should interfere with a child's ability to participate in city programs and activities," said Hardy, a civics teacher at a local public school. "Children need to be able to play together in an inclusive environment that is free from bullying and harassment."
According to the 2017 Florida Youth Risk Behavior Survey Report, more than 15 percent of students experienced bullying.

In addition to declaring the elimination of bullying as a goal of the city, the resolution also affirms the city's commitment to support local resources aimed at addressing bullying and requires the city's youth programs, activities and opportunities to have anti-bullying policies.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance Endorsements - 2020 - Updated 7/15/19

The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance endorses candidates who support LGBTQ initiatives and privacy rights.

Endorsements of candidates are made upon consideration of: 

  • How a candidate has voted on LGBTQ issues 
  • How a candidate has supported the Palm Beach County LGBTQ community 

_____________________

The following candidates have been endorsed by The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance for election or re-election in 2020:

Palm Beach Gardens City Council (Group 5) - Rachelle Litt 

West Palm Beach City Commission (Dist. 1) - Kelly Shoaf
West Palm Beach City Commission (Dist. 5) - Christina Lambert


The following elected officials endorsed by The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance currently hold office:

U.S. Congressman Ted Deutch
U.S. Congresswoman Lois Frankel
U.S. Congressman Alcee Hastings

Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried

State Senator Lori Berman
State Senator Bobby Powell
State Senator Kevin Rader

State Representative Joe Casello
State Representative Al Jacquet
State Representative Tina Polsky
State Representative David Silvers
State Representative Emily Slosberg
State Representative Matt Willhite

County Commissioner Mary Lou Berger
County Commissioner Mack Bernard
County Commissioner Dave Kerner
County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay
County Commissioner Hal Valeche
County Commissioner Gregg Weiss
County Commissioner Robert S. Weinroth

Clerk of the Circuit Court Sharon Bock
Property Appraiser Dorothy Jacks
Public Defender Carey Haughwout
Sheriff Ric Bradshaw
State Attorney Dave Aronberg
Tax Collector Anne Gannon

School Board Member Marcia Andrews
School Board Member Frank Barbieri
School Board Member Karen Brill
School Board Member Barbara McQuinn
School Board Member Debra Robinson
School Board Member Chuck Shaw
School Board Member Erica Whitfield

Port Commissioner Joseph Anderson
Port Commissioner Blair Ciklin
Port Commissioner Jean Enright
Port Commissioner Wayne Richards
Port Commissioner Katherine Waldron

Circuit Court Judge Jaimie Goodman
Circuit Court Judge Dina Keever-Agrama
Circuit Court Judge James Martz
Circuit Court Judge Lisa Small

County Court Judge Ted Booras
County Court Judge Marni Bryson
County Court Judge  Frank Castor
County Court Judge Edward Garrison
County Court Judge Ashley Zuckerman

Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor Rob Long
Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor Michelle Sylvester
Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor Eva Webb

Boca Raton City Mayor Scott Singer
Boca Raton City Council Member Monica Mayotte

Boynton Beach Mayor Steven Grant
Boynton Beach City Commissioner Justin Katz
Boynton Beach City Commissioner Mack McCray
Boynton Beach City Commissioner Tyrone Penserga
Boynton Beach City Commissioner Christina Romelus

Delray Beach City Commissioner Adam Frankel

Greenacres City Councilwoman Paula Bousquet
Greenacres City Councilwoman Judith Dugo
Greenacres City Councilman Jonathan Pearce

Haverhill Town Councilman Daniel Sohn

Lake Worth Beach Mayor Pam Triolo
Lake Worth Beach City Commissioner Andy Amoroso
Lake Worth Beach City Commissioner Omari Hardy
Lake Worth Beach City Commissioner Scott Maxwell
Lake Worth Beach City Commissioner Herman Robinson

Palm Beach Town Councilwoman Julie Araskog
Palm Beach Town Councilman Lew Crampton
Palm Beach Town Councilwoman Danielle Hickox Moore

Palm Beach Gardens City Councilman Mark Marciano
Palm Beach Gardens City Councilman Matthew Lane
Palm Beach Shores Mayor Myra Koutzen

Riviera Beach City Councilwoman KaShamba Miller-Anderson

Royal Palm Beach Village Mayor Fred Pinto
Royal Palm Beach Village Councilwoman Selena Smith

Wellington Village Councilman John McGovern
Wellington Village Councilman Michael Napoleone
Wellington Village Councilwoman Tanya Siskind

West Palm Beach City Commissioner Cory Neering
West Palm Beach City Commissioner Richard Ryles
West Palm Beach City Commissioner Kelly Shoaf

This paid electioneering communication, which is independent of any party, candidate or committee, is produced, sponsored and paid for by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Two LGBT High School Seniors Awarded PBCHRC Scholarships

By Kristen Grau, South Florida Gay News May 2, 2019
The future of Palm Beach County's LGBT youth is bright - and $2,000 richer. Two LGBT high school seniors, Kavyasree Chigurupati and Eric Burchill, were both awarded $1,000 scholarships last month by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC). The annual scholarships, called the Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Awards, recognize high school seniors who demonstrate LGBT advocacy. Chigurupati was granted hers April 29, while Burchill is slated to receive his May 16. "Both Kavi and Eric have been passionate advocates for the local LGBTQ community," said Carly Cass, PBCHRC's vice president and scholarship coordinator. Kavyasree Chigurupati Chigurupati, 17, is the intersectionality leader of the Gender-Sexualiy Alliance (GSA) at her high school, Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach. She was also voted "Class Activist" in her class' senior superlatives. But what she's most proud of is an initiative she co-founded in GSA called Technicolor. Technicolor is a submission-based student magazine that focuses on self-identity and self-expression, Chigurupati said. "I felt like I wanted to give people this platform where they could express themselves in a way where they felt like they belonged, because is that not the point of the LGBT community? I just wanted everyone to feel included on a level that I didn't for a little" as an LGBT person of color, she said. This was the project's first year, and it received about 60 submissions. Chigurupati said that although the call for submissions was open to all students, it was mostly LGBT students that participated. While collecting artist statements, there was one that was particularly rewarding for Chigurupati. "There's this one that was very ... visually detailed piece about the experiences of being a transgender male that I really resonated with," she said. "I think they said the piece really helped them with their gender dysphoria and that putting it on paper really helped them visualize what they were going though and helped put themselves in the right mindset going forward." Another one of Chigurupati's achievements for the LGBT community was interning for openly lesbian congressional candidate Lauren Baerduring the 2018 midterm elections. Baer lost, but her campaign impacted young people like Chigurupati. "Her wife and her daughter - just her family experience, really - helped me see that she ... has this full level of experience and showed me what it meant to live an entire life outside of your sexual orientation. She was not defined by it at all, she was so inspiring," she said. "She's so passionate about everything that she did and she was so well-spoken and so well-educated but also someone I can identify with." Chigurupati is heading to Rutgers University, a college in New Jersey, to study political science and pursue a career in public service. Eric Burchill Burchill, 18, is his class' valedictorian at Wellington High School. He excelled in his science and math courses, even becoming a National Merit Scholar. But in his advanced courses, he noticed a shortage of LGBT representation. "I'm an academic person, my schooling is really important to me. But ... in all of my upper level math and science classes, I'm almost always the only gay person in my classes and I don't think that's right," Burchill said. "So one of my goals is to increase the representation of gay people in the sciences and academia in general." Burchill has been involved in LGBT advocacy through his school's GSA chapter while serving as vice president. He said he's proud to make GSA an "outlet" for those who might not have supportive families. One way Burchill has provided a safe space through GSA is by organizing LGBT-specific events like trips to youth summits and Pride festivals. Those events are important for high school students in particular, he said. "I think we learn about all the diversity in the gay community because being gay is not the sole characteristic that a lot of people have," he said. "There are gay people of color, and gay people with disabilities and gay people from all walks of life so we kind of see that those people do exist because you don't always see them in our day-to-day lives." Burchill is attending Middlebury College, a small school in Vermont, to study neuroscience and psychology. He said that since GSA has given him the opportunity to increase LGBT visibility, he wants to continue doing so in Vermont. Since it is a small school of less than 3,000 students, according to the U.S. News & World Report, he said he feels a greater responsibility on his shoulders to make sure gay people are represented on campus. He plans to join Middlebury College's LGBT student association to give other LGBT people the many opportunities that he's been given. "I've always felt comfortable with myself and I've always felt safe in my community and my home, but I'm not small-minded enough to think that everyone has been that lucky. So I did feel like I would be remiss if I chose to give up the voice that I've been given and those opportunities," he said. "I do want to make sure that everybody is given those opportunities as some people at some point in their life."

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

West Palm Beach ranked #2 among top U.S. cities for LGBTQ retirees



SeniorAdvice.com rates West Palm Beach as a top city in the nation for LGBTQ retirees

Leading resource for advice for seniors identifies annual list of best cities for LGBTQ seniors.

 

The City of West Palm Beach has been rated the #2 city in the United States for LGBTQ retirees by SeniorAdvice.com, one of the nation's top senior housing referral services.  The only other Florida cities on the list were Fort Lauderdale (#7) and Tampa (#10).


"Once again the City of West Palm Beach has been recognized as being one of the most LGBTQ-friendly places in the United States," said retired judge Rand Hoch, President and Founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council

PBCHRC is Florida's oldest, independent, non-partisan, political organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. The organization promotes equality, through education, advocacy, direct action, impact litigation, and community outreach. Over the years, PBCHRC has been responsible for the implementation of more than 135 laws and policies providing equal protections, rights, and benefits for the LGBTQ community. 

"For more than three decades, elected officials in West Palm Beach have worked together with community leaders, nonprofit organizations and dedicated volunteers to ensure that our city is one of the best places in the country for LGBTQ people to live, study, work, create families, socialize and retire," said Hoch. "It is encouraging that their efforts on behalf of LGBTQ seniors have been acknowledged."

The top twenty U.S. cities named by SeniorAdvice.com as the most accommodating for LGBTQ seniors in 2019 are:
  1. New Orleans, LA
  2. West Palm Beach, FL
  3. Tucson, AZ
  4. Toledo, OH
  5. Alexandria, VA 
  6. Tempe, AZ
  7. Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  8. Austin, TX
  9. Dayton, OH
  10. Tampa, FL
  11. Pittsburgh, PA
  12. Boulder, CO
  13. Albuquerque, NM
  14. Asheville, NC
  15. Eugene, OR
  16. Salt Lake City, UT
  17. Boise, ID
  18. Buffalo, NY
  19. Bridgeport, CT
  20. Santa Ana, CA
According to recent estimates tracked by Gallup Surveys, the national population identifying as LGBTQ is increasing - among the top 50 metropolitan areas, the LGBTQ population averages 4.5 percent. By 2050, the senior population is expected to double to 88 million people aged 65 and older. With these numbers increasing each year, the need to discover locations that are welcoming to LGBTQ seniors also increases.

SeniorAdvice.com recognizes that the LGBTQ older adult community is currently a very important part of the American population to consider, and has dedicated much time and energy to supporting this group.

"SeniorAdvice.com has been an invaluable resource for seniors, their family members, and caregivers. We're also very dedicated to diversity and inclusion, and we wanted to make sure we could assist members of the gay and lesbian community in finding the best locations for retirement and senior housing," said SeniorAdvice.com CEO and Founder, Ryan Patterson.

To view details regarding the top gay-friendly cities in America for seniors in 2019, click here

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Eric Burchill and Kavyasree Chigurupati to receive the Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Awards

Eric Burchill and Kavyasree Chigurupati, graduating seniors at Wellington High School and the A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, respectively, have been granted Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Awards, the annual scholarships presented by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.

The Council, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, awards the annual scholarship to college-bound graduating seniors who have demonstrated an interest in advocacy on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community. 
 
The Social Justice Award is named after Daniel S. Hall, a local attorney who manages a financial counseling company.  Hall, Treasurer of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council since 1990, is the Council's longest-serving board member. As the father of three grown children, Hall has always had a strong interest in education. Over the years, has mentored several LGBTQ students.  
Eric Burchill


Eric Burchill, a senior at Wellington High School and a National Merit Scholar, will be graduating as his class valedictorian  As Vice President of the school's Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA), Eric has worked to encourage the acceptance and equality of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities through school events, decorations, and physical and verbal expression of ideas. He has also helped organize trips to Palm Beach Pride events, as well as local youth summits for the LGBTQ+ community. In college, Eric plans to study neuroscience, while continuing his advocacy for the LGBTQ community and his work for animal rights.


Kavyasree Chigurupati 

Kavyasree Chigurupati is the intersectionality leader of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance at Dreyfoos School of the Arts. She is also the co-founder of Technicolor, a GSA zine that functions as a platform for LGBT+ artists to express themselves. Kavyasree's passion for social justice extends outside of the GSA, and she was voted "Class Activist" by Dreyfoos' class of 2019. 

"My experience at Dreyfoos has shown me how important it is to represent LGBTQ voices through creative expression," Kavi told PBCHRC.

Kavi will be attending the Honors College at Rutgers University, where she intends to continue her fight for social justice as a Political Science major.

"Both Kavi and Eric have been passionate advocates for the local LGBTQ community," said PBCHRC Vice President Carly Cass, whi has coordinated PBCHRC's scholarship program since its inception in 2015.

Dan Hall will present the $1,000 scholarships to Kavi at the Dreyfoos School of the Arts Senior Awards Night on April 29 and to Eric at the Wellington High School Senior Awards Night on May 16.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Federal Judge Upholds Palm Beach County and Boca Raton Conversion Therapy Bans



Anti-LGBTQ hate group Liberty Counsel loses again

February 14, 2019

In a 60 page order, Judge Robin Rosenberg of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida denied the request of two conservative Christian metal health counselors who sought preliminary injunctions to prevent Palm Beach County and the City of Boca Raton from enforcing laws prohibiting them from subjecting LGBTQ minors to conversion therapy.
Conversion therapy, also known as ” reparative therapy” or “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE), encompasses a range of discredited and noneffective counseling practices by which healthcare providers seek to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

The practice has been widely discredited by every major professional health organization in the United States as being ineffective, unethical and dangerous. These organizations include the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the American College of Physicians, the American Counseling Association, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American School Health Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, the Pan American Health Organization, the Regional Office of the World Health Organization and the World Psychiatric Association.
Conversion therapy also has been rejected by the American Association of School Administrators, the American Federation of Teachers, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Education Association and the School Social Work Association of America.
Fifteen states, the District of Columbia and numerous counties and municipalities across the nation have banned conversion therapy.
The two local ordinances banning conversion therapy were enacted in 2017 at the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC), Florida’s oldest nonpartisan civil rights group dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Over the past 31 years, the independent nonprofit organization has succeeded in having public officials implement more than 130 laws and policies providing equal rights, benefits and protections for the LGBTQ community. PBCHRC was also responsible for the enactment of seven other municipal ordinances banning conversion therapy in Palm Beach County.
“Judge Rosenberg handed LGBTQ children in Palm Beach County a significant victory,” said retired judge Rand Hoch, PBCHRC’s President and Founder. “For the time being, young LGBTQ people in Palm Beach County will remain safe from the psychological abuse caused by a handful of quacks who would like to resume practicing conversion therapy here.”
None of the 20 conversion therapy bans enacted to date in Florida apply to members of the clergy unless they also are licensed mental health professionals.
At the federal court hearing on the preliminary injunction last October, local mental health counselors Robert Otto and Julie Hamilton were represented by Liberty Counsel, an organization classified as an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. For decades, Liberty Counsel has challenged pro-LGBTQ laws across the United States. However, every time Liberty Counsel has gone to court to overturn a conversion therapy ban, the organization has failed.
Liberty Counsel lawyers argued that conversion therapy bans violated their clients’ free speech rights and religious beliefs. They tried to convince the court that the injunctions were necessary because their clients were prevented from helping LGBTQ minors who want to turn heterosexual.
The lead counsel for the defendants, Assistant Palm Beach County Attorney Rachel Fahey, told the court that “sexual orientation and gender identity can’t be changed by a licensed provider,” adding that there was nothing in the ordinances that would prevent mental health providers from counseling or providing “talk therapy” to minors who might be struggling with their sexual identities. Fahey argued that the bans were necessary to protect LGBTQ youth from serious harm resulting from being subjected to conversion therapy.
Prior to casting their votes to ban conversion therapy in 2017, Palm Beach County Commissioners and Boca Raton City Commissioners were presented with scientific reports and expert opinions on the harms related to conversion therapy.
“The potential risks of conversion therapy on children include shame, guilt, depression, decreased self-esteem, increased self-hatred, feelings of anger and betrayal, loss of friends, social withdrawal, problems in sexual and emotional intimacy, hostility and blame towards parents, high-risk behaviors, confusion, self-harm, substance abuse and suicidal ideation,” said Dr. Rachel Needle, a licensed psychologist, certified sex therapist and an adjunct professor at Nova Southeastern University, whose expertise was relied upon by the elected officials who enacted the conversion therapy bans throughout Palm Beach County.
Dr. Needle’s expert testimony also was taken into consideration by Judge Rosenberg.
In her ruling, Judge Rosenberg rejected Liberty Counsel’s arguments that the bans violated the free speech rights of mental health counselors, parents and minor patients.
“Since the preliminary injunctions were denied, Judge Rosenberg has let us know that there is very little chance any of the conversion therapy bans in South Florida will be overturned by the federal district courts here,” Hoch added.
Judge Rosenberg’s ruling will no doubt be taken into consideration by Judge William Jung of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Tampa, who is set to rule on a preliminary injunction in Robert Vazzo and David Pickup v. City of Tampa – a virtually identical case brought by two conversion therapy practitioners also represented by Liberty Counsel. While the federal magistrate in that case has recommended the a preliminary injunction be granted, Judge Jung is not required to follow her recommendation.
“In light of Judge Rosenberg’s masterful and well reasoned ruling, I am hopeful that Judge Jung rejects the magistrate’s recommendation,” said Hoch.
Less than an hour after Judge Rosenberg issued her ruling, Liberty Counsel filed a notice of appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit on behalf of the two therapists.
“To date, every court challenge to the constitutionality of banning conversion therapy ever filed in the United States has failed,” said Hoch, who served as Florida’s first openly gay judge in the 1990s. “However, since so many very conservative federal judges have appointed over the past two years, Liberty Counsel is chomping at the bit to take a conversion therapy ban challenge through the federal courts and up to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
“Before Trump was elected, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear cases seeking to overturn conversion therapy bans on four separate occasions,” said Hoch. “However, with Associate Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh now sitting on the Court, those of us in the LGBTQ legal community are very concerned.”

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

President's Message - February 2019

February 13, 2019

Since 1988, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance (PBCHRCVA) has interviewed close to 1,000 candidates for public office. As a result of our successes in electing LGBTQ-supportive candidates, it is illegal in Palm Beach County to discriminate against LGBTQ people with regard to employment, housing and public accommodation. In addition, conversion therapy is banned throughout the county. Moreover, there now are more than 135 local ordinances, resolutions, collective bargaining agreements and policies that provide Palm Beach County's LGBTQ residents and visitors equal rights, protections and benefits. A complete list can be found on the Laws & Policies page.

PBCHRCVA endorses candidates who support LGBTQ initiatives and privacy rights. Endorsements of candidates are made upon consideration of:

* How a candidate has voted on LGBTQ issues
* How a candidate has supported the Palm Beach County LGBTQ Community

On March 12, 2019, municipal elections will be held across Palm Beach County. PBCHRCVA has concluded the candidate screening and interview process for the elections to be held in Boynton Beach, Lake Worth, Palm Beach, Riviera Beach and West Palm Beach.


The following candidates have been endorsed by The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance in their campaigns for election or re-election in the 2019 Municipal Elections:
Boynton Beach Mayor
Steven B. Grant

Boynton Beach City Commissioner (Dist. 1)
Justin Katz

Boynton Beach City Commissioner (Dist. 2)
CO-ENDORSEMENT
You must only vote for one of the candidates
Mike Fitzpatrick
or
Christina Romelus

Boynton Beach City Commissioner (Dist. 4)
Tyrone Penserga

Lake Worth City Commissioner (Dist. 2)
Omari Hardy

Lake Worth City Commissioner (Dist. 4)
Herman Robinson

Palm Beach Town Council 
Julie Araskog

Riviera Beach City Commission (Dist. 1)
Lynne Hubbard

Riviera Beach City Commission (Dist. 3) 
Tonya Davis Johnson

West Palm Beach Mayor
Priscilla Taylor

West Palm Beach City Commission (Dist. 3)
Richard Ryles
If you live in Boynton Beach, Lake Worth, Palm Beach, Riviera Beach or West Palm Beach, it is important to vote in the municipal elections and we hope that you will support our endorsed candidates.

-- STATUS UPDATE --
CONVERSION THERAPY BANS
 FEDERAL COURT CHALLENGES



Last summer, Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBTQ hate group, filed suit in federal court on behalf of two licensed therapists seeking to nullify the ban on conversion therapy for minors enacted by Palm Beach County and the City of Boca Raton. The lawsuit is virtually identical to one filed by Liberty Counsel last December against the City of Tampa. 

Although several lawsuits have been filed across the United States seeking to overturn conversion therapy bans, not a single one has been successful. In fact, on four occasions, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up cases challenging the bans. However, as the Supreme Court turns further and further to the right on social issues, Liberty Counsel is seeking another chance to allow therapists to abuse LGBTQ children through conversion therapy.

In October, a daylong hearing was held before U.S. District Court Judge Robin Rosenberg on the plaintiff's Motion for a Temporary Injunction. A ruling is expected soon and PBCHRC will continue to keep you informed on the status of the case as it works its way through the court system.

Unfortunately, things have not gone as expected in the federal lawsuit seeking to nullify the City of Tampa's ban on conversion therapy. In late January, a magistrate issued a recommendation to the presiding federal judge, William Jung, who was appointed to serve on the Federal court by President Trump last fall. The magistrate urged Judge Jung to grant Liberty Counsel's clients motion for a preliminary injunction which would allow conversion therapy practitioners to continue to "treat" children with "talk therapy" pending a trial on the merits later this year. 

What surprised me was that the magistrate accepted Liberty Counsel's arguments that the therapists should be allowed to continue to practice conversion therapy based on their First Amendment rights to free speech. This is contrary to rulings in all of the other conversion therapy ban cases around the county.

While I am concerned about the direction where the Tampa case ultimately could go if Judge Jung adopts the magistrate's recommendation, it is important to understand that at this stage, the recommendation is only that - a recommendation. It is not an actual order from the Court. Now it is up to Judge Jung to decide whether to adopt that recommendation or issue a different ruling. That is all that counts. 

Furthermore, this is only about a preliminary injunction while the case works its way through the federal courts. Regardless of the outcome of this stage of the process, there will be a trial on whether the Tampa conversion therapy ban will be upheld later this year. 

It is important to keep in mind that even if Judge Jung adopts the recommendation of the magistrate, it will not be binding on Judge Rosenberg, who is presiding over the Liberty Counsel's case against Palm Beach County and the City of Boca Raton. Nor will Judge Jung's ruling be binding anywhere else outside of the City of Tampa. That having been said, Judge Rosenberg could find Judge Jung's decision to be persuasive, which would be extremely unfortunate for LGBTQ children in Palm Beach County.


THE DANIEL S. HALL 
SOCIAL JUSTICE AWARDS
PBCHRC Treasurer Dan Hall and scholarship recipient Victor Espidol
PBCHRC is accepting applications for the Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Award -- a college scholarship available to graduating LGBTQ high school seniors from Palm Beach County. We award these scholarships annually to up to three local college-bound high school seniors who have demonstrated an interest in advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community. 

If you are - or know - a graduating senior who might be interested, more information and a link to the application, click here.

THE 2019 WINTER FÊTE

VIP Reception hosts Scott Rixford and Jose Mena
with Winter Fête Host Jeff Ganek (center)

On Saturday night, January 19, 2019, more than 150 PBCHRC supporters gathered at the West Palm Beach home of contemporary art collector Jeff Ganek to honor West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio at our SOLD OUT Winter Fête. Thanks go out to Jeff, as well as to Scott Rixford and Jose Mena, who hosted a party in mid-January to thank PBCHRC's major donors.

To view more photos from the event, click here.

GAY POLO!

Joseph Pubillones, PBCHRC Preisdent Rand Hoch and Don Todorich

The 10th Annual Land Rover Palm Beach International Gay Polo Tournament will be held on Saturday, April 6, at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. For more information and tickets, go to www.gaypolo.com. Once again, PBCHRC's tailgate party is being sponsored by REALTOR Don Todorich of the Corcoran Group and Joseph Pubillones Interiors. Ken Keffer Catering will be providing the food, and as always, there will be an open bar. 

For information about tickets and tailgates, click here

CURRENT INITIATIVES

West Palm Beach City Commissioners Christina Lambert and Kelly Shoaf
at the 2019 Winter F Fête

On the local level:
  • PBCHRC Board Member Meredith Ockman is working with West Palm Beach City officials on two other initiatives. Meredith is working with
    • City Commissioner Christina Lambert and Compass on initiatives to assist LGBTQ seniors.
    • City Commissioner Kelly Shoaf and Compass on initiatives to assist LGBTQ youth.
  • Within the next few months, the City of West Palm Beach will be installing an LGBTQ Pride Rainbow Crosswalk at a location soon to be determined.
  • To help make trans and gender nonconforming residents and visitors feel more welcome, at PBCHRC's request, the City of West Palm Beach soon will be changing the unisex signs on single-stall restrooms in City Hall and all other municipal buildings to be "All-Gender."
  • PBCHRC is working to have the Lake Worth City Commission adopt inclusive and innovative approaches to citywide bullying prevention.
  • PBCHRC is working with the Health Care District of Palm Beach County to see if it is feasible for the District to provide trans-specific healthcare services to indigent patients. Thanks go out to Health Care District Commissioner Cory Neering for his assistance in this initiative.
  • PBCHRC is working with School Board Member Karen Brill in an effort to have the School Board take steps to ensure that the School District ceases doing business with Chick-fil-A and other companies that discriminate against LGBTQ people and other minorities.
On the state level, PBCHRC is working with SAVE FloridaTranslatinaConservatives on the Right of Equality, former State Representative David Richardson and numerous LGBTQ activists around the state in support of the Florida Inclusive Workforce Act (FIWA) - a new effort to amend the Florida Civil Rights Act to prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Thanks go out to our local to State Senators -- Lori Berman (D-Lantana), Bobby Powell (D-Riviera Beach), and Kevin Rader (D-Boca Raton) -- for becoming early FIWA co-sponsors.Thanks also go out to Lake Worth Vice Mayor Andy Amoroso who got the Lake Worth City Commission to adopt a resolution urging all of the legislators in Palm Beach County to support FIWA.

Additionally, PBCHRC has recently become affiliated with the Florida Hate Crime Coalition to help garner support for State Senator Kevin Rader (D-Boca Raton) and Representative Joe Geller (D-Aventura) legislation to extend Florida's Hate Crimes laws to include "gender identity."

 
For 31 years, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council has worked diligently on behalf of the LGBTQ community. With your support, we will continue to do so in the years to come - and we will keep you posted on our progress.
Judge Rand Hoch (retired), 
President and Founder

This paid electioneering communication, which is independent of any party, candidate or committee, is produced, sponsored and paid for by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance.

The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance.
Post Office Box 267
West Palm Beach, Florida 33402