The Kentucky Equality Federation says it is planning a public protest because two gay men with intellectual and developmental disabilities were kicked out of a recreational center run by the city of Hazard on Friday.
The federation, which advocates for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex, says the two were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.
The city's attorney, however, said the facility does not discriminate, and "there is a dispute as to the facts of what transpired."
The men, who were not identified, had been swimming at the Hazard Pavilion with a group from Mending Hearts Inc., which provides care to people with mental retardation and developmental disabilities.
"The Pavilion staff immediately entered the pool area and asked my clients and their staff to leave the Pavilion," Shirlyn Perkins, executive director of Mending Hearts, said in a news release issued Monday by the Kentucky Equality Federation. She said her staff "were informed that 'gay people' weren't allowed to swim there."
Ollie Adams, co-owner of Mending Hearts, said a staff member told her that the Pavilion employee told the group to leave after one of the men sat on the other's knee and put his arm around him while sitting outside the pool. "There was no kissing and hugging," Adams said.
Gay and developmentally disabled too no less. Not kissing or hugging (as if that should matter, I see straights kissing and hugging daily...). The Kentucky equality federation is the one threatening to protest. Here is some of what they had to say...
"This is completely outrageous, The Pavilion is owned by the City of Hazard and paid for by our tax dollars," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "Rest assured Kentucky Equality Federation will not tolerate discrimination in any form and our Southern Kentucky volunteer management, as well as our Discrimination, Hate Crimes and School Bullying Committee have planned a peaceful response."
Shirlyn Perkins, executive director of Mending Hearts Inc. said of the event:
"My staff asked the Pavilion staff why they were being asked to leave, and they were informed that 'gay people' weren't allowed to swim there," she said. "My staff told this man that what he was trying to do was discrimination. The man stated that what he was doing was in the Bible and he could do it. My staff continued to argue with this man but was ultimately forced to leave. My clients, who already feel ridiculed and different, left the city-owned facility crying and embarrassed for trying to participate in 'normal' activities that everyday 'normal' people do."
Note: bold emphasis in both are mine.
Some in the comments have brought up, appropriately, that some claimed the men were kissing at the facility, specifically a lifeguard there. However, let me point out that they were not told to leave over the rules of Public displays of affection, but because they were gay and the facility had the Bible on their side. The PDAs seem to been more a damage control afterthought, at least that is how this seems to me.
Gay and lesbian issues get very little support in our area, so I ask that any way you can show support, please do so. This was a city pool, city facility, and this is without a doubt a terrible display of discrimination.
Action Contact Info:
Hazard, KY 41701
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (Note: Non-functioning...sorry)
Director: Charlotte Sizemore
City of Hazard: Mayor's office..
700 Main Street
Hazard, KY 41701
P.O. Box 420
Hazard, KY 41702
Fax: (606) 436-3252
Kentucky Equality Federation can be contacted from Link provided above. Thank you to those wishing to take action on this. A petition can be found HERE.