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Gay float exclusion protested

Mon., June 4, 2007

TWIN FALLS, Idaho – Members and supporters of a gay and lesbian group whose float was denied entry into the annual Western Days parade protested at the event by standing by their idle float and waving signs.

The signs supporting the Southern Idaho Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center read “Love makes a family” and “We are not invisible.”

“I feel that this is discrimination,” Mitch Silvester, a spokesman for the center, told the Times-News. “We are family oriented and open to the entirety of southern Idaho.”

The Western Days Committee denied entry of the float, saying it was inappropriate for the family parade. The float had a green cutout of Idaho that read “Southern Idaho GLBT,” and included a rainbow.

Silvester said committee members told the group they were concerned parents would complain to the planning committee if their children asked questions about what GLBT stood for.

“This is a very conservative region with strong religious values,” Lisa Cueller, an organizer of Saturday’s parade, told the newspaper. “It’s nothing against the group itself, but we felt that it was in everybody’s best interest not to allow their float in the parade.”

Some parade watchers said the float should have been allowed in the parade. Ron Van Wagenen said it would have been an opportunity to educate his children.

“I don’t think we can make the world safe for our children – we need to make our children safe for the world,” he said. “We need to teach our children. They see stuff, and they’ll ask questions, and answering these questions is our opportunity to teach them.”


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