Op-ed: San Diego Firefighters Win Suit over Gay Pride Harassment

By: Gay.com

Four San Diego Firefighters have sued the city of San Diego for being forced by the City to participate in a Gay Pride Parade and, while participating in that parade, being sexually harassed.  The four have won their suit, collecting around $34,000.

The City required the firefighters to ride on an engine and participate in the parade as representatives of the City.  During the parade, the firefighters claimed they were subjected to pervasive sexual harassment in the form of lewd gestures, comments, “cat-calls," etc., from the parade’s participants and spectators. 

The jury agreed that this constituted sexual harassment, and, since the firefighters were there (and subjected to that harassment) because of the City’s demands, the City was held liable.

I was not at the parade.  But I am going to go out on a limb here, based on what I know of the facts of the case and what I know of the dozens of Gay Pride Parades I have been to across the U.S. and Canada, and state that I have little doubt that these firefighters were, indeed, recipients of untold numbers of lewd and harassing sexual comments and gestures.

I'm gay, and I sure as heck would not want to be forced by my employer to participate in some “Hooters” promotion during which I was repeatedly forced to deal with the sexual comments and gestures of straight people.

So, when the shoe is on the other foot – as it is in this case – I can understand why these firefighters were upset and why they sued. 

It's important that Cities show unity and inclusion at Gay Pride Parades; it shows that we, too, are full-fledged and important tax-payers on equal standing with straight citizens.  However, that does not, in my mind, clear a City of taking responsibility for what happens to its employees who are forced to represent the City at such events. 

Straight or gay, people have the right not to be harassed.

(Image courtesey of Getty)

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