A local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organization has been told they will not be able to participate in Cincinnati's St. Patrick's Day parade.
The Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), an anti-bullying organization that works with schools to prevent bullying, was told by the St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee they could not participate because of their LGBT affiliation.
The parade is scheduled for Saturday at noon in downtown Cincinnati.
Many local city leaders have publicly announced their support of GLSEN, stating they will boycott the parade if the organization isn't allowed to participate. Vice-Mayor Roxanne Qualls, Councilmembers Chris Seelbach, Wendell Young, Charlie Winburn, Cecil Thomas, PG Sittenfeld, Yvette Simpson and more have all stated they will not attend.
"Either we're going to be welcoming, and we're
going to be inclusive, or it's going to be very,very difficult to have Wendell
Young as your council member because I will not stand for it," said Young.
City leaders are urging the parade committee to reconsider their decision and let GLSEN participate.
"We all want to have fun. We all have
volunteers who are ready to walk. We just want them to do the right thing. Let
this group of ten or so people march in their shirts like everyone else and
everything's solved, but if they're unwilling to do that then we can't march
along side without them," said Seelbach.
In response, the Cincinnati St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee released this statement:
The Cincinnati St. Patrick Day Parade, started in 1967, is a celebration of the Patron Saint of Ireland, St. Patrick. The Parade has a rich history in Cincinnati, but has always required that the Parade should not be used for advancing any political party, social movement or cause. The Parade has allowed participants to identify themselves and the organization they represent, but no solicitations are permitted by the marchers or in the crowd along the parade route. These restrictions are plainly set forth in the "Parade Orders" given to all potential participants. The Gay Lesbian Straight Educational Network participated in last year's Parade, but did not abide by the Parade's requirements. The Network again this year indicates it will not agree to the "Parade Orders." Unfortunately, therefore, the Network cannot participate in this year's Parade. The rules and order apply equally to all. For instance, Pro-Life and Pro-Choice groups who have not agreed to the requirements have not been participants in the Parade in the past.
Finally, the Parade receives no money from the City, but only reduced costs it pays for police presence. It is the St. Patrick Parade's understanding that other parades held in the City also receive the same or similar reduced costs.
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