The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) has allegedly been banned from an Ohio St. Patrick's Day parade because the parade's organizers don't want a gay and lesbian group affiliated with the Catholic event.
City Councilman Chris Seelbach was informed that GLSEN could not participate in the Cincinnati, Ohio, St. Paddy's parade on Saturday because of the holiday's Irish Catholic roots, according to Cincinnati's CityBeat. GLSEN reportedly informed Seelbach the group was told by a parade organizer that "it's their parade, it's an Irish Catholic parade and we don't want any members of the gay and lesbian community to be affiliated."
GLSEN is an anti-bullying organization that seeks to eliminate prejudices based on sexual orientation and/or gender affiliation in schools by spreading education and awareness.
"I was floored when I heard the news," Seelbach told CityBeat. "You know, the city helps fund this parade, and the city has made it very clear that we will not tolerate any kind of discrimination against gay people."
Josh Wagoner, GLSEN's Greater Cincinnati Co-chair, responded to the rejection in a statement, saying, "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."
Money sent in by members of the GLSEN Greater Cincinnati chapter, who marched in the parade last year, was returned and the group's invitation was reneged. Ohio's WLWT reports GLSEN applied to participate in the parade before the deadline.
Seelbach tweeted that other city representatives have since decided to opt of Saturday's event because of the parade's anti-gay stance.
GLSEN has created an online petition in hopes of convincing the organizers to allow them to participate in the parade.
At least one other city has tried to make its St. Paddy's Day more inclusive.
Massachusetts Senate candidate Maureen Dahill started a petition for an all-inclusive St. Paddy's parade, that would include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups in the South Boston celebration.
“I am proud to be from South Boston," Dahill told Bay Windows, a New England-centric LGBT publication. "South Boston is a vibrant community... It’s time we showed our neighborhood in its true light and allowed gays and lesbian groups to march in the parade.”