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Children’s museum calls cops, threatens LGBT-supportive kids with trespassing

Monday, June 24, 2013

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A children’s museum in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday allegedly notified police and threatened a group of children with trespassing after they delivered a petition asking the museum to “stop discriminating” against LGBT families.

Hands On Children’s Museum, Jacksonville, Fla.

The Hands On Children’s Museum has been the target of gay rights advocates since earlier this month when it denied its family membership rate to lesbian parents after a museum employee noticed that the names under “Mom and Dad” on the application were both women.

Karen Lee-Duffell, whose family has had a membership at the museum for three years, said that when she went to renew, a museum employee tried to charge her an additional $10 for “substituting” her wife as part of her family membership.

“You can’t have two moms’ and she points up at the sign, a family membership consists of one mom and one dad,” said Lee-Duffell.

News of the museum’s policy spread on social media, prompting a boycott and creation of a petition at Change.org, asking the museum to change its “discriminatory policies toward families who just-so-happen not to have a mom and a dad.”

On Saturday, petition organizer Mary Kimrey reported that when children attempted to deliver the petition signatures to the museum, they were told they were trespassing and museum employees called the police:

Children attempted to deliver a copy of this petition to The Hands On Children’s Museum. The children were not allowed inside and were told they were trespassing. They politely handed the petition to a lady outside, said thank you, and turned around, respecting the museum’s rights to turn them away. The museum called the police on the children, but no arrests were made.

The friendly Jacksonville police officer made it clear that no other demonstrators, including children, were to attempt to set foot on museum property.

The museum has denied it discriminates against LGBT families, but a museum employee who declined to be identified issued this statement:

“The Hands on Children’s Museum does not discriminate against gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. We have and will remain welcoming and inclusive. Our family memberships include Mom, Dad and their children and allow unlimited visits throughout the year. For single parent families, we allow for other adults in the household to be added as members with the parents consent and payment of $10.00 administrative fee. This policy is consistent with our religious beliefs, and Florida law, while still allowing us to accommodate non-traditional child rearing.”

The museum has since revised its family rates. But rather than allow its family rate to include families of same-sex parents, the museum removed “1 Mom & 1 Dad” from its family plan, and replaced it with “1 Named Parent” or “Grandparent.” Now the additional $10 charge will apply to all families who want to add a second parent, gay or straight.

Last week, a museum spokesperson said the museum’s staff have been “discriminated against, threatened and attacked” over the phone and via email, and that the museum deserves an apology for how it is being treated.

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36 more reader comments:

  1. what awful people those owners must be.

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 4:48pm
  2. wtf

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 4:51pm
  3. And of course, this place is the darling of the Religious Right and are being praised to the skies for their behavior!

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 4:51pm
  4. Last week, a museum spokesperson said the museum’s staff have been “discriminated against, threatened and attacked” over the phone and via email, and that the museum deserves an apology for how it is being treated.

    How does it feel?

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 4:51pm
  5. I hope this bad press destroys their buisness!!

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 4:52pm
  6. using religious beliefs to oppress others. GG should just pop a sign on the front door and say STRAIGHT FAMILES ONLY. Turn into another segregation tribute.

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 4:53pm
  7. Boo, hiss!!

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 4:56pm
  8. Yes and using religion again woe. My thing they have had there membership the same way for three years and because of a employee I am sorry most family these days are not single parents.

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 4:57pm
  9. disgusting

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 4:58pm
  10. So the museum shows it’s true colors. Everything else was a lie

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 4:58pm
  11. Ha!! That’s not likely to ever happen. Now the poor staff will develop persecution complexes.

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 5:00pm
  12. oh florida lol

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 5:01pm
  13. Those Museum owners are taking up oxygen.

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 5:01pm
  14. Religious liberty to charge certain people more money. Seriously?

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 5:03pm
  15. Equal Rights mean Equal Rates. At least they changed their policy and now charge every one Gay or straight Equally.

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 5:10pm
  16. I live in Jax and go by there all the time! Who the heck would want to take a kid to a kids museum called “Hands On Children’s Museum”. That really is the name and now we know it is run by religious nuts! Does this not set off red flags for parents everywhere!!!!

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 5:18pm
  17. Scumbags!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 5:20pm
  18. Bad behavior deserves bad treatment! The museum deserves way worse!!

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 5:21pm
  19. Looks like a crappy little place anyway… hope they find some place better to take their kids

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 5:23pm
  20. Hmmmm they will lose buisness due to this bad press

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 5:26pm
  21. My mother is an educator who lives in Jax. She said to me a while ago that the place and its owners are super creepy, and the facility is dirty. I am not surprised by this latest development.

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 5:33pm
  22. love those Florida bigots,,,,,,

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 5:34pm
  23. there should be a warning out front to potential patrons that the place supports bigoted attitudes.

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 5:40pm
  24. Yet another reason why Jax needs it’s huge LGBT community to be outspoken and active. More protests now!

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 5:53pm
  25. our YMCA won’t recognize our family. if you have a second, would you sign the petition please?

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 6:22pm
  26. Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 6:22pm
  27. Disgusting. People should be ashamed.

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 6:25pm
  28. They do not have a legal right to turn people away. You cannot refuse service without just cause.

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 7:31pm
  29. Who do people think they are? Why should they tell is what our families should consist of?

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 7:32pm
  30. Very bad business sense…their cutting their own business.

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 8:20pm
  31. this is so wrong on so many levels

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 8:24pm
  32. them again? this the new westboro baptist church?

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 8:47pm
  33. I thought US was a modern free-thinking society. That is certainly not true. Several such incidents coming to light now and then. Where is America going wrong? A developed nation which secured it’s freedom in 18th century is yet to come to terms with LGBT community. What can we expect from rest of the world..

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 9:48pm
  34. What I wouldn’t give to see this dump go out of business.

    Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 10:06pm
  35. You know, if you want to hate against me as an adult that’s one thing, but why take it out on the kids?

    Posted on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at 3:19am
  36. this should surprise me, but it DOESN’T….it’s FULL of GOP/BIBLE THUMPERS….saddly, i have family in the area. :P

    Posted on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at 3:52am