CINCINNATI - The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and its Greater Cincinnati chapter today condemned the decision by the Cincinnati St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee to bar the local GLSEN chapter from participating in the annual St. Patrick's Parade because it is an organization that works on LGBT issues.
"Our goal is to participate in this year's parade and to have our students feel like part of their community," said Josh Wagoner, GLSEN's Greater Cincinnati Co-chair. "GLSEN Greater Cincinnati partakes in local events of all kinds to ensure that students, parents and educators are aware of the GLSEN programming available to them and to gain insight on how we can best serve the needs of our community. Everywhere we go, we encounter parents and youth who need our support. Our visible participation makes a difference. We are horrified by the message this sends to LGBT youth, who suffer constant bullying and discrimination, that they are not welcome in Cincinnati."
The GLSEN Greater Cincinnati chapter was notified on Thursday, March 14 that it would be prohibited from participating in the Cincinnati St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday, March 16. The decision was communicated to the local GLSEN chapter by Chris Schulte, the parade's grand marshal. According to the marshal, exclusion from the parade was solely based on the organization's affiliation of working with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and the decision was voted on and approved by the parade's committee.
"GLSEN's work to ensure that schools are safe places where children can learn and thrive is incredibly important in our community," said Councilmember Chris Seelbach, Cincinnati's first openly gay elected official. "Their efforts to prevent anti-gay bullying has saved the lives of children across our country. I stand with them and will ensure that a taxpayer subsidized parade cannot discriminate against them."
In 2012, the GLSEN Greater Cincinnati chapter marched in the St. Patrick's Day Parade and members of their Youth Group were ecstatic to have an opportunity to march once again this Saturday. On March 14, GLSEN Greater Cincinnati was notified that their parade registration check was being returned and the local GLSEN chapter was no longer invited to participate in the annual event.
For nearly 20 years, GLSEN Greater Cincinnati has carried out local programming that has included a weekly high school youth group, an annual community-wide youth prom and professional development training for educators and administrators.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.