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Gay participants banned from Cincinnati St. Patrick’s Day parade

Gay participants banned from Cincinnati St. Patrick’s Day parade

CINCINNATI, Ohio — Organizers of Cincinnati’s St. Patrick’ Day parade have banned the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) from participating in the annual event because they don’t want any gay and lesbian groups marching in a Catholic event.

Ricardo Martinez, the Community Initiatives Manager GLSEN, said his group learned Friday that parade organizers have barred their greater Cincinnati chapter and its youth leaders from marching in Saturday’s parade because “we have gay and lesbian in (our) name.”

GLSEN is an anti-bullying organization that seeks to eliminate prejudices based on sexual orientation and gender affiliation in the nation’s public schools and universities schools by spreading education and awareness of LGBTQ people and issues.

City councilman Chris Seelbach, who is openly gay, said, he was “floored” when he heard the news that GLSEN could not participate because of the holiday’s Irish Catholic roots.

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“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,” Seelbach told Cincinnati’s City Beat newspaper.

Seelbach and council members Roxanne Qualls, Wendell Young, Yvette Simpson and Greg Landsman have all announced they will not participate in the parade because of the organizer’s decision.

“Everywhere we go, we encounter parents and youth who need our support. Our visible participation makes a difference,” said GLSEN’s Cincinnati chair, Josh Wagoner. “We are horrified by the message this sends to LGBT youth, who suffer constant bullying and discrimination, that they are not welcome in Cincinnati.”

GLSEN has created an online petition in hopes of convincing the organizers to allow them to participate in the parade.

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