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Several council members withdraw from St. Patrick's Day Parade protesting exclusion of LGBT group

Several council members are refusing to march in the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade this weekend because a gay rights group was not allowed to participate.

Josh Wagoner with The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) says the group was notified Thursday that it was prohibited from marching in the parade.

He says the parade's Grand Marshall said, "exclusion from the parade was solely based on the organization’s affiliation of working with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and the decision was voted on and approved by the parade’s committee."

In a statement, Wagoner says the group's only goal is to be in the parade.

“GLSEN Greater Cincinnati partakes in local events of all kinds to ensure that students, parents and educators are aware of the GLSEN programming available to them and to gain insight on how we can best serve the needs of our community. Everywhere we go, we encounter parents and youth who need our support. Our visible participation makes a difference. We are horrified by the message this sends to LGBT youth, who suffer constant bullying and discrimination, that they are not welcome in Cincinnati.”

Councilman Chris Seelbach released the following statement:

“As a parade subsidized by taxpayer dollars, it is shocking to hear that GLSEN has been denied entry due to their support and efforts in the LGBT community,” Seelbach said. “The City has proudly supported the St. Patrick’s Day parade as a great cultural and heritage festival for many years, but we can in no way support an organization that discriminates against groups due to LGBT affiliations. The people of Cincinnati have made it clear that anti-gay discrimination is wrong. If groups are discriminated against I am certain my colleagues will join me in rescinding taxpayer support.”

Seelbach is calling on the parade's organizers - the Ancient Order of Hibernians - to reverse their decision. He and other council members and politicians have also taken to Twitter.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.