Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Apparently, It's In The Water!

Imagine, if you will, that it's a hot day, and you want to go for a swim to cool. And imagine that your town has a lovely recreational facility with pools and athletic courts and saunas and sundecks. You know, just the place to spend a hot summer afternoon.

Wouldn't that be nice?

Now, imagine you're a person with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and you are being helped by a local group with rehabilitation and therapy sessions, and they suggest you head on over top the local pool for some cool relaxation.

Again, so nice.

Now, picture yourself as the person with these disabilities, and you are also gay. And so is your friend. And you head on over to The Pavilion, a public recreational facility in the city of Hazard, Kentucky. You and your friend, along with staff members from Mending Hearts, which provides support for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and provides ongoing support for their clients regarding appropriate behavior within the community.

Sounds like a fun day, right?

Then imagine that, while swimming with your friends at The Pavilion, a maintenance technician comes over and tells you to leave, saying "[W]e own this place and can tell you to leave if we want to."

That happened. in a public pool, paid for by public tax dollars. Gay and straight public tax dollars.

Shirlyn Perkins, Executive Director of Mending Hearts: "The 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. 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, 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."

He was doing what the Bible says. You know, in Lost Commandment Eleven. Thou Shalt Not Swim In Public Pools If You're Queer.

And now the Kentucky Equality Federation is in the fight. And before you can say lawsuit, they will tell you that they want no money, they filed no lawsuit. All they want is an apology from the Pavilion and the staff.

And to let those two gay men back in the pool.



Mitch Block said...

Ah crap. It can all be so heartbreaking. And infuriating. But mostly for me lately, infuriating. Few people in this country have any idea the discrimination -- of all kinds -- that continues. We're lucky to have organizations like the Kentucky Equality Federation.

Stephen said...

Except for whiskey, what is good about Kentucky? Just asking. Set me straight.

FDeF said...

Found a few email addresses for Hazard, KY and sent this:
To All Whom it May Concern:

As there is no direct email for the mayor of Hazard, KY, I am directing my comments here.

News is out about the reprehensible display of bigotry and hate proffered by an employee of a recreational facility (public pool) run by the city. Not only does the City of Hazard owe an apology to the developmentally challenged citizens who were insulted and asked to leave the pool, but the person who took it upon himself to use the Bible as an excuse for his hatred and morally superior attitude should be fired. His personal beliefs do not give him the right to deny citizens their right to use public facilities without cause. This kind of blatant hatred is totally unacceptable in a pluralistic, civilized society. (Perhaps Hazard does not fall into that category).