City Councilman Chris Seelbach wants Cincinnatians amped up for this weekend's Cincinnati St. Patrick's Day Parade to be aware that the parade's organizers are purporting an anti-LGBT agenda by refusing to allow the Cincinnati chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to participate in the parade.
GLSEN works within k-12 schools to prevent bullying by striving for equality regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. According to Seelbach, who is an ally of the Cincinnati LGBT community, GLSEN informed him that their request to participate in the parade was declined by one of the parade's organizers, Chris Schulte, specifically because "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."
"I was floored when I heard the news," says Seelbach.
He called Schulte directly in hopes of reasoning changing his mind quietly, without the need for any publicity. "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."
Schulte denied the request, according to Seelbach, which propelled him to make a post on Facebook informing people of the decision and requesting that others not walk in the parade as a sign of support. "By participating, in a sense, you're supporting their decision. They [GLSEN] just want to wear their T-shirts and walk in the parade."
The parade is set to take place tomorrow, Saturday, March 16 at noon beginning at Eggleston Avenue and Reedy Street downtown.
Seelbach is also suggesting people contact Schulte to urge him to allow GLSEN to participate at 513-941-3798 or firstname.lastname@example.org. CityBeat's attempt to contact Schulte by phone was unsuccessful. We'll update this story if we receive any new information.