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One year later: St. Patrick's Day Parade

March 1, 2014

Dear GLSEN Greater Cincinnati friends and supporters,

As March begins, we remember and are deeply grateful for the support so many of you showed last year when our youth and volunteers were barred from the St. Patrick's Day Parade. Even though we had marched in 2012, parade organizers voted in 2013 to exclude us because of the words "gay" and "lesbian" in our name. The outpouring of support a year ago included city officials, politicians running for office, unions, and the Crowley family, which founded the St. Patrick's Day celebrations. Although parade organizers sent a devastating message to our youth, we had the opportunity to talk about our programs through many media outlets, including WCPO, WLWT, WKRC, The Cincinnati Enquirer, CityBeat, WVXU, 700 WLW, CNN, Buzzfeed and The Huffington Post.

We hoped to be admitted to this year's parade, especially after Cincinnati City Council, led by Council Member Chris Seelbach, amended the City's non-discrimination law to require parades accepting city funding to abide by the policy. However during budget cuts last year, those funds went away. Parade organizers did not make applications publicly available and did not respond to our requests.

So even though we will not be marching in the parade, we want to take a moment to let you know about other ways we've been working for safe schools and remaining visible in the last year -- and to invite you to celebrate at our Prom and Safe Space Soiree on Saturday, April 12!

Working for safe schools for all:

-- Youth Group: We've continued the GLSEN Greater Cincinnati Youth Group for high school age youth, which meets weekly with paid professional co-coordinators. The program is flourishing and is an essential resource for LGBTQPIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, questioning, queer, pansexual, intersex, asexual and ally) youth.

-- Youth Summit: Last Fall over 200 youth, educators and adults who work with youth attended the GLSEN Greater Cincinnati Youth Summit, which featured a keynote from actor and human rights activist George Takei.

-- Policy Work: In November we assisted the Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education as it adopted enumerated language into the District's anti-bullying policy. Along with YWCA Greater Cincinnati/Family Violence Prevention Project, Greater Cincinnati HRC and Equality Cincinnati, we supplied relevant research and language from GLSEN's model policy for school districts, which the Board adopted unanimously.

-- Educator Training: At February's Third Annual Summit: Improving School Outcomes, 200 school professionals learned effective strategies to create safe spaces for LGBT students. Robert McGarry, Ph.D, GLSEN's Senior Director of Education and Youth Programs, offered a keynote address detailing GLSEN's research and programs and how each aspect relates to personal experiences of LGBT students.

We offered a Safe Space training to 150 school support professionals from Cincinnati Public Schools, conducted a daylong training for 30 mental health professionals in Clermont County on being allies to LGBT youth, and many smaller but important opportunities -- like presenting to 9th grade health classes at a local private school just last month.  

Being visible:

-- White House Award: Last spring, in appreciation of his help and support, we successfully nominated Cincinnati City Council Member Chris Seelbach for a White House Harvey Milk Champions of Change Award, presented by President Obama.

-- Parades and info tables: We've marched in the Pride Parade, the Northside Fourth of July Parade, and the Harvest Home Parade, and had information tables at Black Family Reunion, UC Blue Ash, Asian Food Fest, Stomp Out Bullying, and two sessions for Metro bus employees.

-- HBO: A member of Youth Group was part of a panel at HBO's regional premiere of Valentine Road, an incredible documentary about the murder of 15-year-old Larry King in a classroom in Oxnard, California in 2008.

And of course, next month is PROM! On Saturday, April 12 our big celebration is two events under one roof at the Mayerson JCC in Amberley Village. Prom includes dancing, DJ, snacks and soda for LGBTQPIA youth and their allies in a safe, supportive space, and is free to attend for students age 13 through high school. The Safe Space Soiree is the adult portion. Soiree admissions allow Prom to be a free event for youth and support Youth Group and outreach programs to local schools.

We hope you can join us for Prom and the Safe Space Soiree, or that you will consider making a tax-deductible donation at

Thank you as always for your support, which has made GLSEN Greater Cincinnati's work possible since 1995.

With great appreciation,

Kathleen G. Laufman and Josh Wagoner, Co-Chairs
John P. Bruggen
Crystal Loomis
Estelle Manegold Riley
Rick Blanco Santiago
GLSEN Greater Cincinnati Management Team