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'Start Pushing Back': Lawmakers Slam LGBTQ+ 'Youth Carnival' That Bars Parents

Tony Kinnett : May 26, 2023  The Daily Signal

"The idea that there would be a festival based solely on sexual identity and replete with sexual themes aimed at youth is in and of itself very troubling. To think that organizers would explicitly forbid parental involvement is simply untenable..." -State Rep. Jake Teshka, R-South Bend

[] A wave of criticism is greeting an LGBTQ+ "Youth Carnival" set to take place in Indianapolis in early June, largely because the event will bar parents from attending. (Image: Pexels)

The June 7 event organized by two LGBTQ+ organizations, Indiana Youth Group and Indy Pride, is advertised as providing food, fun, and unspecified entertainment for "youth," although adults ages 18 through 20 also are invited.

"It's alarming how quickly the 'Pride' movement has gone from 'just stay out of our bedroom' to 'give us your kids and stay out!'" US Rep. Jim Banks, R-IN, said in a written statement provided to The Daily Signal.

"We must start pushing back on the public officials and corporations that are enabling the Left's radical social agenda," Banks added. "This is out of control."

A poster for the Youth Carnival doesn't indicate the nature of the entertainment, but the registration form for children describes "an opportunity to meet local Indy drag royalty" and a "youth talent show" as among planned activities:

The registration form also asks children to identify their preferred personal pronouns, including the options "They/Them/Theirs," "Ze/Zir/Zem/Zeir," and "Xe/Xir/Xem/Xeir."

Zoe O'Haillin-Berne, director of engagement for Indiana Youth Group, responded to my original questions after my first report on the Youth Carnival was published Wednesday by The Daily Signal.

Among those questions is why the group is excluding parents, and why adults 18 through 20 are invited to an event for minors.

Regarding the exclusion of parents, O'Haillin-Berne said that although parents "are invited to participate in alternative activities ... , we do not allow parents on site for safety concerns."

These safety concerns derived from a "general sociopolitical climate" that is "inhospitable and hostile to LGBTQ+ children," she said, and could "cause psychological and physical harm to queer youth."

O'Haillin-Berne didn't indicate which groups are considered "inhospitable and hostile" by Indiana Youth Group, nor whether parents are among them.

Indiana Youth Group CEO Chris Paulsen previously told The Indianapolis Star that parents thought to be unsupportive of LGBTQ+ ideology are inhospitable.

The Daily Signal reported Wednesday that Indiana Youth Group runs a program, Prism, which it describes as a "rapid rehousing project ... focused specifically on serving LGBTQ+ young adults." The group says that its program rehouses these LGBTQ+ young adults from "unsupportive" homes and parents.

At the June 7 event, Indiana Youth Group presumably would be able to advertise Prism without parents' knowledge.

About the barring of parents, O'Haillin-Berne also said that "most youth don't like their parents hanging around while they're trying to enjoy time with friends and peers."

Notably, O'Haillin-Berne omitted "meeting drag royalty" as one activity at the Youth Carnival. She mentioned "a DJ, youth talent show, and standard carnival activities like facepainting, games, and crafts," but left drag queens off the list although the registration form mentions them.

The event is scheduled from 1 to 6 p.m. June 7 at Indiana Youth Group's activity center in Indianapolis, nicknamed "The Pit."

The response so far from lawmakers, including Banks, has been universally negative.

Banks also criticized the advertised sponsor of the Youth Carnival in a tweet, writing: "What the h--- is the [Indianapolis Airport Authority] thinking?"

State Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, tweeted a similar question: "Why in the h--- is the [Indianapolis] Airport Authority involved in something that bars parents from seeing what their children are being exposed to?"

The Indianapolis Airport Authority, the only organization described by Indiana Youth Group on its poster as "presenting the event," has balked at being singled out. Officials there told The Daily Signal that the airport authority is one of "many sponsors."

State Rep. Jake Teshka, R-South Bend, said he believes the planned event should be grounds for removing Indiana Youth Group from the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles' vanity license plate nonprofit program, which receives taxpayer funding:

In a written statement, Teshka told The Daily Signal:

The idea that there would be a festival based solely on sexual identity and replete with sexual themes aimed at youth is in and of itself very troubling. To think that organizers would explicitly forbid parental involvement is simply untenable.

In the legislature I have fought for the recognition of parents' right to direct the upbringing of their children. It's disheartening to know that an organization supported in part by the state would further try to separate parents from kids.

Others have begun to question the ethicality of holding Pride events that include children in any form.

Jay Richards, director of The Heritage Foundation's DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family, provided this statement to The Daily Signal, which is the leading think tank's multimedia news organization:

A campaign launched under the banner of 'pride'—one of the Seven Deadly Sins—was never a good idea. But with the infusion of gender ideology into its ranks, 'pride' now stands for sexualizing children. And to succeed, children must be alienated from their parents.

I doubt many who campaigned for same-sex marriage imagined that targeting kids, exposing them to porn, and teaching them they might be born in the wrong body would be next on the agenda. At some point in the future, I suspect the gender activists will look back and identify this as the moment they went too far. They've turned not only their parents but even much of the coalition they claim to speak for against them.

I can think of lots of words to describe such a campaign. 'Pride' isn't one of them. Subscribe for free to Breaking Christian News here

Tony Kinnett is an investigative columnist for The Daily Signal.

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