Suzanne Boisvenue, Oakland Park’s Vice Mayor, has been a long time advocate for equality and fairness for non-traditional families in South Florida. Just a few months ago, she advocated for a rule change that made housing ordinances amenable to gay couples with adopted or foster children. The move was protested by John Labriola, an unsuccessful Tea Party candidate, prior to the local elections.
Ms. Boisvenue’s latest move is more directly in response to the recent upswing in teen suicides and the widely reported notion that bullying may be responsible for some of the deaths. At her recommendation, the Oakland Park City Commission has voted unanimously (5-0) to approve a resolution that makes clear its support for federal legislation relating to the issues at hand.
The resolution acknowledges that Oakland Park “supports legislation that prohibits discrimination and bullying in general” and “in particular when it is due to their gender identity or sexual orientation.” The resolution also promises to make room for these issues in Oakland Park’s own legislative agenda for 2011. Furthermore the resolution calls attention to four bills which currently await passage in the US Senate and House of Representatives: HR 4530 & S 3390 – House and Senate versions of The Student Nondiscrimination Act and HR 2262 & S 3739 – House and Senate versions of the Safe Schools Improvement Act.
“I also asked that letters be sent to the Broward League of Cities and our legislators in Tallahassee so that we can get state-wide support for our government in Washington DC to pass these bills,” says Boisvenue.
Recently, many gay rights advocacy groups have been calling for passage of these acts, including a local peer activist network called National Voices for Equality, Education and Enlightenment (NVEEE) and a national organization called the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN). These organizations and many others can now claim that the City of Oakland Park has heard their call for action and answered.
“It’s critical for your readers to know,” Boisvenue told SFGN, “that the commission passed this resolution unanimously and that this is important. These kinds of bills that prohibit discrimination are so important and it’s important that they pass. And I think with enough of our community members calling for action on them, they will.”