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

Thursday, January 31, 2019

PBCHRC Voters Alliance endorses Priscilla Taylor for Mayor of West Palm Beach

The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance has endorsed hundreds of candidates for office since 1988 based on the following criteria:
  • How a candidate has voted on LGBTQ issues
  • How a candidate has supported the Palm Beach County LGBTQ Community
In the race to replace Jeri Muoio as Mayor of West Palm Beach, all three candidates -- Keith James, Paula Ryan and Priscilla Taylor -- have been outspoken in support of our issues. All have 100% voting records on our initiatives. And all supported the LGBTQ community by participating in community events for longer than they have been in public office. 

All three candidates are qualified to serve as Mayor and we have no doubt that the next Maor of West palm Beach will do an excellent job serving the city's LGBTQ community.

The first decision we had to make was whether to co-endorse all three candidates or endorse the strongest candidate based on our criteria. After extensive deliberation, we determined it was best to endorse the candidate with the strongest record of support for the LGBTQ community.

Following a thorough review of their records, we interviewed the three candidates. 

Ultimately, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance endorsed Priscilla Taylor for Mayor of West Palm Beach, based on her outstanding record of support dating back to 1999 when she began her public service as a Port Commissioner.

Priscilla Taylor

As a Port Commissioner, Priscilla led the successful campaign to secure family health insurance coverage for employees with domestic partners.

As a State Representative, Priscilla co-sponsored PBCHRC's initiatives to amend Florida's Educational Equity Act, the Florida Civil Rights Act and Florida's Fair Housing Act to protect our community against discrimination. She also co-sponsored Equality Florida's Competitive Workforce Act.

As County Commissioner, Priscilla was instrumental in having Palm Beach County:
  • amend the Equal Employment Ordinance and the Nondiscrimination in Contracting Policy to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression,
  • extend family health insurance coverage to the domestic partners of county employees,
  • establish a countywide domestic partnership registry.
  • revise the Family Medical Leave Policy to provide the same benefits to the families of County employees based on domestic partnerships as were provided to families based on legally recognized marriages,
  • enact a tax equity reimbursement policy to reimburse County employees insuring their domestic partners for the full amount of the additional federal income taxes which are assessed on employees whose domestic partners receive health insurance through their employers,
  • establish a policy prohibiting the County from doing business with, or appropriating funds to, any public or private organization which practiced discrimination on the basis of "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression",
  • vastly expand the definition of "places of public accommodation" in the Palm Beach County Ordinance for Equal Opportunity to Housing and Places of Public Accommodation,
  • amend the definition of "sexual orientation" in the Equal Employment Ordinance from "male or female homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality, by preference or practice" to "heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or asexuality, whether actual or perceived",
  • update health insurance policies for County employees to include transgender-related care, and 
  • enact an ordinance banning conversion therapy for minors throughout the County.
Clearly, there are few public officials in Florida wh can hold a candle to Priscilla's support of the LGBTQ community.  She will be an excellent Mayor of West Palm Beach. 


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

Sunday, January 27, 2019

What has PBCHRC ever done for the trans community?

Paid staffers at a statewide LGBTQ rights organization in Florida has been attacking PBCHRC and others on social media for "leaving the transgender community behind". Here is just one example:
The organization is basing its attack on a PBCHRC legislative strategy way back in 2007. Interestingly, that was the year PBCHRC's bill in the Florida House of Representatives to amend the Florida Civil Rights Act and Florida's Fair Housing Act included both "sexual orientation" and "gender ifentity or expression."But our 2007 bill, like every LGBTQ-supportive bill ever filed in the Florida Legislature since the aforerefereced organization was founded in 1997, was dead on arrival.

So, let's set the record straight.

Of the 136 laws and policies PBCHRC is responsible for enacting since 1990, sixty-three are trans-supportive.  Here they are:

Trans-Supportive  Laws and Policies 
in Palm Beach County



1. 2004 - The Office of the Supervisor of Elections becomes the first local public employer to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression.

2. 2007-  West Palm Beach amends its Equal Opportunity Ordinance to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression in private and public employment, housing and public accommodation.

3. 2007 - Lake Worth amends the city's Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression.

4. 2007 - Palm Beach County amends its Equal Employment Ordinance to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression.

5. 2007 - Tequesta enacts comprehensive policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

6. 2008 - The Palm Beach County School Board includes sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression as protected classes in a comprehensive policy protecting students against bullying and harassment.

7. 2008 - The South Florida Water Management Districts amends its policies to prohibit harassment based on gender identity or expression.

8. 2010 - The Palm Beach County School Board revises all of the School District’s nondiscrimination policies to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

9. 2011 - Wellington amends their non-discrimination policies to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

10. 2011 - The Office of the State Attorney revises its Harassment Policy to include gender identity or expression.

11. 2012 - Palm Beach County amends its Nondiscrimination in Contracting Policy to include gender identity or expression.

12. 2012 - The West Palm Beach Housing Authority adds gender identity or expression to its nondiscrimination policy.

13. 2013 - The Town of South Palm Beach adds "sexual orientation" and "any other legally protected status" to the Town's nondiscrimination statement.

14. 2013 - The Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority adds gender identity or expression to its nondiscrimination policy.

15. 2013 - The City of Delray Beach updates its policy against discrimination, harassment and bullying to include both "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression."    

16. 2013 - The City of Boca Raton amends its personnel rules and regulations to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

17. 2013 - The City of Boca Raton extends the jurisdiction of the Community Relations Board to include the city's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.

18. 2014 - The City of Boynton Beach amends its personnel policies to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression.

19. 2014 - The Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners unanimously votes to establish a policy stating that the County shall not do business with, or appropriate funds to, any public or private organization which practices discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, ancestry, sex, age, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability or genetic information. 

20. 2014 -  The Town of Lake Park updates its Equal Employment Policy to prohibit discrimination based on "gender identity or expression"

21. 2015 - The Port of Palm Beach includes an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination clause in their contract with Bahamas Paradise Cruiseline.

22. 2015 - The Farmworker Coordinating Council of Palm Beach County updates its nondiscrimination policy to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

23. 2015 - The City of Boynton Beach enacts an LGBT-inclusive Civil Rights Ordinance.

24. 2015 - The City of  Riviera Beach amends its Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy to include both "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression".

25. 2015 - The City of Greenacres enacts an LGBT-inclusive Civil Rights Ordinance.

26. 2015 - The City of Delray Beach enacts an LGBT-inclusive Civil Rights Ordinance.

27. 2015 - Florida Atlantic University amends Regulation 5.010, Anti-discrimination and Anti-harassment, to include "gender identity and expression".

28. 2015 - The Town of Lake Clarke Shores unanimously adopts an LGBT-inclusive resolution supporting freedom from discrimination for all individuals.

29. 2015 - The Town of Haverhill adopts an LGBT-inclusive resolution supporting freedom from discrimination for all individuals. 

30. 2015 - The Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners votes to vastly expand the definition of "places of public accommodation" in the Palm Beach County Ordinance for Equal Opportunity to Housing and Places of Public Accommodation.  

31. 2015 - The Village of Wellington enacts an LGBT-inclusive Civil Rights Ordinance.

32. 2015 - The West Palm Beach City Commission votes to vastly expand the definition of "public accommodations" in the West Palm Beach Equal Opportunity Ordinance.

33. 2015 - The School District of Palm Beach County replaces the phrase “personal life style (including sexual orientation)” with the phrases “gender identity and/or gender expression” and “sexual orientation” in the Discrimination and Harassment article in the School District’s collective bargaining agreement with the teachers’ union.

34. 2015 - The South Florida Water Management District announced that it prohibits transgender workers from being harassed and discriminated against based on both "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression" even if they work in a jurisdiction that has no LGBT-inclusive rights laws. 

35. 2016 -  The Town of Haverhill amended its Equal Employment Opportunity  Policy to prohibit discrimination against Town employees based on "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression".

36. 2016 -  The Town of Haverhill amended its Anti-Harassment Policy to prohibit harassment against Town employees based on "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression".

37. 2016 - The Lake Worth City Commission amended the city’s Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

38. 2016 - The Lake Worth City Commission amended the city’s Merit Services policy to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

39. 2016 - The Lake Worth City Commission amended the city’s Procurement Code to ensure equal opportunity based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

40. 2016 - The Town of Lake Clarke Shores updated its Anti-Harassment Policy to specifically include "gender identity or expression" among the protected classes.

41. 2016 - The City of West Palm Beach updated its procurement code to expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

42. 2016 - The City of West Palm Beach updated its health insurance policies to include transgender-related care for municipal employees.

43. 2016 - The City of West Palm Beach enacts an ordinance banning conversion therapy for minors.

44. 2016 - The 15th Judicial Circuit updated its Civil Rights Complaint Procedure to specifically include complaints of discrimination based on "gender identity or expression".

45. 2016 - The 15th Judicial Circuit updated its Code of Conduct for Non-Judicial Employees to prohibit discrimination based on "gender identity and expression”.

46. 2017 - The City of Lake Worth enacts an ordinance banning conversion therapy for minors.

47. 2017 - The City of Boynton Beach enacts an ordinance banning conversion therapy for minors.

48. 2017 - The Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners amends the definition of “sexual orientation" in the County’s Equal Employment Ordinance from "male or female homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality, by preference or practice" to   "heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or asexuality, whether actual or perceived." 

49. 2017 - The City of Delray Beach enacts an ordinance banning conversion therapy for minors.

50. 2017 - The City of Riviera Beach enacts an ordinance banning conversion therapy for minors.

51. 2017 - The City of Delray Beach enacts an ordinance banning conversion therapy for minors.

52. 2017 - The Town of Jupiter enacts a Fair and Impartial Policing Statement which provides that police officers “shall not consider race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, gender identity or sexual orientation in establishing either reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or as a basis for requesting consent to search.”

53. 2017 - The City of Riviera Beach enacts an ordinance banning conversion therapy for minors.

54. 2017 - Palm Beach County updated its health insurance policies to include transgender-related care for county employees.

55. 2017 - The Village of Wellington enacts an ordinance banning  conversion therapy for minors.

56. 2017 - The City of Greenacres  enacts an ordinance banning  conversion therapy for minors.

57. 2017 - The City of Boca Raton enacts an ordinance banning  conversion therapy for minors.

58. 2017 - Palm Beach County becomes the first county in Florida – and the largest county in the United States – to enact an ordinance banning conversion therapy for minors.

59. 2018 - The Village of Royal Palm Beach adopts an LGBT-inclusive civil rights resolution.

60. 2018 - The City of West Palm Beach adopts an LGBTQ-inclusive resolution affirming its commitment to address and eliminate bullying at city facilities and in city programs. 

61. 2018 - The School Board of Palm Beach County adopts Policy 1.041, Equity Policy, to show the Board’s commitment to eliminating race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or socioeconomic status as predictors for academic success.

62. 2018 - The Town of Ocean Ridge enacts an LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinance.

63. 2018 - The School Board of Palm Beach County amends Policy 0.01, Commitment to Students, to prohibit discrimination and harassment by educators based on students' sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

New Legislation Filed to End LGBTQ Workplace Discrimination in Florida


January 18. 2019
LGBTQ leaders unite in lauding a bi-partisan approach 
to passing the Florida Inclusion Workplace Act (FIWA)

January 22, 2019

(Tallahassee, Florida) Florida State Senator Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) introduced legislation this afternoon to protect LGBTQ Floridians from discrimination in the workplace.  

The Florida Inclusion Workforce Act (FIWA) focuses on ensuring that Florida will be able to retain the best talent in its workforce by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to Florida's Civil Rights Act, helping to strengthen Florida's economic future.

Senator Gruters introduced the bill in cooperation with SAVE Florida and the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, with the participation of Translatina and Conservatives on the Right of Equality. Just last week, Gruters was elected chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

"Senator Gruters' bill is sharply focused on the key economic discrimination faced by LGBTQ Floridians -- discrimination in the workplace,"  said retired judge Rand Hoch, President and Founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC). "Achieving this first step will open the door, enabling us to move forward to protect our community in every part of Florida and in every area of our lives."

"Thanks to the efforts of Senator Joe Gruters, the LGBTQ community has a new champion in the Florida Senate," said Tony Lima, Executive Director of SAVE Florida. "Protecting LGBTQ workers from discrimination will take a bi-partisan effort. Years and years of partisan attacks have killed any chance of success for a comprehensive non-discrimination bill in Tallahassee -- until now."

"With Senator Gruters' leadership, there is finally a real opportunity to enact these much-needed workplace protections," Lima added.

Legislation to protect Florida's gay community from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations was first introduced in 2007 by then-State Senator/now-Congressman Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton) at the request of PBCHRC. 

In 2008, working closely with then-State Senator Jeff Atwater (R-North Palm Beach), Deutch garnered bipartisan support and the bill passed the Senate Commerce Committee. That vote on the Deutch-Atwater legislation marked the only time a gay rights bill moved forward in the Florida Legislature.  

When it became obvious in 2010, that the bill was going to be dead on arrival, PBCHRC passed the baton to Equality Florida.The organization rebranded the bill the Competitive Workforce Act and unsuccessfully lobbied for its passage for the 9 legislative sessions. The bill never was heard in the Florida House of Representatives and the one time it was heard by a Florida Senate committee, it failed to pass.

"For the past decade, passing protections for the LGBTQ community was not made a legislative priority," said former State Representative David Richardson (D-Miami Beach). "Continuing to rely on a failed strategy -- and a bill that has floundered for years -- no longer makes sense."

"Policy change is often incremental," acknowledged Richardson.  "I applaud Senator Gruters' for his fresh approach which is fully inclusive of the LGBT community."
   

### 

About PBCHRC
The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council 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. 


About Save Florida

SAVE Florida is a bi-partisan initiative designed to ensure protections for the LGBTQ community in the workforce, public services, and accommodations in partnership with the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, Translatina and Conservatives on the Right of Equality.