Earlier this week, a disabled gay couple were kicked out of a public pool in Hazard, Kentucky. A staff member at the Hazard Pavilion recreation center told the two men and their aids that they needed to leave because “‘gay people’ weren’t allowed to swim there.” And why not? Apparently, because “it’s in the Bible.”
The two men, who are developmentally and intellectually disabled, arrived at the pool accompanied by staff from Mending Hearts Inc. The organization provides support for people with certain disabilities and helps guide their behavior in public. “Neither of these young men was exhibiting inappropriate public behavior as witnessed by their direct support staff,” said Julia Oiler Spiegel of the Kentucky Equality Federation.
Shirlyn Perkins, Mending Hearts’ Executive Director, told the Kentucky Equality Federation that “Pavilion staff immediately entered the pool area and asked my clients and their staff to leave the Pavilion.”
“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. [They] told this man that what he was trying to do was discrimination,” Perkins continued. “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.”
The Kentucky Equality Federation called the incident “completely outrageous.” “The Pavilion is owned by the City of Hazard and paid for by our tax dollars,” said Jordan Palmer, the organization’s president. “[Religion] has no place in government.” The Advocate reports that Palmer’s group and others are planning to protest at the Pavilion and Hazard City Hall.
“My clients, whom 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,” Perkins said of the incident.
Photo credit: Eric Skiff (Creative Commons Share Alike)
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