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GOP Legislators Challenge LGBTQ+ Safe Spaces Program in Florida Town

In Mount Dora, Florida, some Republican lawmakers are considering various options to prevent business owners from displaying rainbow decals in their windows as part of a city-sponsored program that designates them as “safe places” for LGBTQ+ individuals. The lawmakers argue that this program could potentially harm the community’s economy. They cited previous boycotts of Bud Light and Target as examples.

Last month, the city council of Mount Dora approved the Safe Place Initiative. The program aims to provide safety information and accessible resources to those who become victims of anti-LGBTQ+ or hate crimes within the city. Mount Dora, known for its antique shops and festivals, has around 17,000 residents.

The Orlando area, including central Florida, already has several Safe Place programs, such as ones sponsored by the Orlando Police Department, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, and Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. Coincidentally, since the approval of the program in Mount Dora, there has been an increase in anti-LGBTQ+ incidents, including vandalism at two LGBTQ+ centers in Orlando.

Democratic state lawmaker Anna Eskamani, who represents Orlando, shared the letter from the Republican lawmakers on social media and criticized it, stating that it is unnecessary to politicize the existence of LGBTQ+ individuals. She urged the lawmakers to focus on more pressing issues, like the affordability of living in Florida.

In May, the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ+ rights organization in the U.S., joined other civil rights organizations in issuing a travel advisory for Florida. The advisory warns about potential risks to minorities, immigrants, and gay travelers due to recently passed laws and policies in the state.

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