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New Broward ad tells visitors 'we welcome everyone' in contrast to 'anti-woke' agenda

A heart with the LGBTQ+ flag inside laid over the Fort Lauderdale shoreline seen from above.
Visit Lauderdale
Visit Lauderdale
A photo from the new Visit Lauderdale advertisement campaign.

Broward County is "welcoming everyone with open minds and open hearts."

That's what a new advertisement for tourists to the Greater Fort Lauderdale area says.

The ad, distributed on social media, features a diverse cast of people, including same sex couples, a person paddle-boarding with a prosthetic leg and people from multiple races. The phrases that appear on screen are short and simple:

"We are different. Yet similar." "We are respectful of everyone." And "We are gay."

“In spite of HB 1557 being signed into legislation, Greater Fort Lauderdale is a progressive destination recognized throughout the tourism industry for its thought leadership on diversity, inclusion and acceptance," said Stacy Ritter, president and CEO of Visit Lauderdale.

The bill, also known as "Don't Say Gay," prevents the instruction of “sexual orientation or gender identity" in kindergarten through grade 3, or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.

Broward County’s tourism promotion arm made the ad in three weeks, Ritter said. She said she was prompted to make the advertisement after a message from the American Society of Association Executives, who were concerned with Florida's inclusivity after a series of bills championed by Governor Ron DeSantis.

"We knew it was time to remind people what our community values are," Ritter said, noting that a few groups had decided not to book visits because of the bills. "And when things happen at the state level that don't necessarily align with your community's values, you need to just remind people... that there are lots of people here who are welcoming and want you to come and have a great time no matter who you love, what you look like, or who or what you worship."

The bills and opposition to them aren't the only reason Broward is advertising itself as a welcoming place, Ritter said.

"This isn't new to us, she said. "We've been marketing and promoting the diversity of this destination for 30 years."

We Are... ad video from Visit Lauderdale

Gerard Albert III is back in Broward, where he grew up, after reporting on crime and public safety in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and West Palm Beach. Albert is a former WLRN intern who graduated from Florida International University.