Organizers of the Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade decided to bar members of the borough’s LGBTQ+ pride center from participating. But Madison L’Insalata, this year’s Miss Staten Island, decided to take a stand.
“I wanted people to be talking,” L’Insalata said. “I wanted there to be discussion about change.”
Larry Cummings, one of the parade organizers, declared that L’Insalata and another pageant winner were no longer allowed to participate in the event. Cummings told pageant organizer Jim Smith he made the decision based on safety concerns for the women.
Cummings has publicly stated in the last year LGBTQ+ groups’ inclusion in a parade honoring Irish culture would be inappropriate.
“Here’s the deal, it’s a nonsexual-identification parade, and that’s that. No, they are not marching,” Cummings said.
To me, this sounds like homophobia disguised as some sort of false safety concern. Cummings’ concern is not for the safety of the LGBTQ+ community. What Cummings is concerned about is people being LGBTQ+ in the first place.
While being banned from marching in a parade seems trivial, the LGBTQ+ community still faces life-changing struggles today. In 29 states, the LGBTQ+ community lacks employment protection from the law, meaning they can be fired at any time for their sexual orientation.
Still, only a handful of states have laws that say gay couples may parent together. States that allow same-sex couples to adopt children include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Vermont.
California is the only state that prohibits adoption agencies to deny adoption to a same-sex couple because of their sexual orientation.
Your work ethic has nothing to do with your sexual orientation. Your parenting has nothing to do with your sexual orientation. You can be gay and do good work, and you can be gay and be an amazing parent.
We shouldn’t be worrying about other people’s sexual orientation anymore. We shouldn’t have been worrying about it in the first place.
Yes, things are changing. But there are battles that can’t be won in a courtroom. The LGBTQ+ community still faces heavy discrimination, fear and hate, which often results in physical, mental and emotional harm.
About 40% of homeless youth in America identify as LGBTQ+ and often end up on the streets because they’ve been rejected by their family members.
We have come a long way in protecting the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, but there’s still so much work to do.
It’s our job to teach young people about the importance of acceptance because what may seem trivial, like being banned from participating in a parade, could end in something as serious a brutal hate crime resulting in death.