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Pride festival sparks outrage, support

Staff Writer | July 22, 2022 1:00 AM

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SANDPOINT – Wednesday’s council meeting started with fireworks as many citizens expressed concern and outrage over last weekend’s Pride Festival.

Les Hutchinson Campos, ACLU Idaho digital communication specialist, spoke during the event and expressed how proud they were to not only be in a city that had a Pride festival. Campos thanked the planning committees for creating a space where they and their family would be accepted.

However, that sentiment did not ring true for some community members. That concern was heard during the council’s public forum portion of the meeting by several people who criticized the city for even allowing the event.

Ranging from sexual exploitation to nudity, and the attendance of children. Many citizens focused predominantly on the impact and events like pride have on the community’s youth.

Concern over the well-being of the community's children attending the event prompted him to speak out, resident Dean Cannon said.

“Morality is something that's created and debated outside these doors here,” Cannon said. “Walls exist to protect the innocence and dignity of children in our society. Children are far more vulnerable than any grownups no matter what social-political identity group that adult belongs to.”

Cannon cited the state’s Child Protective Act which defines abuse as any case in which a child has been subjected to sexual conduct, has seen photographic exploitation, harming, or threatening a child's health or welfare.

“From the pictures and video I've seen, these events walk a very fine line legally and certainly in taste and hope the next legislature addresses the lack of enforcement of these laws,” Cannon said. “And if an event is a massive police presence to secure it, and will actually be some sort of clue to the adults.”

Kenneth Clark, a Sagle resident, rhetorically asked if anyone present would be willing to support an event in which scantily clad dancers are hired to perform to explicit songs in front of children.

“No, because that would be absurd. That is a ridiculous notion,” Clark said. “Because it is a Pride event does not mean it needs to be a degeneracy event. I agree that the Pride event that was held in Sandpoint doesn’t have anything to do with the LGBTQ community, most of whom do not agree with bringing children before sexually explicit shows,“

While he did not attend, Clark told the council he had seen pictures and video of the event. He said what he had seen of the drag show in particular, was not child appropriate in any way. Clark told the council that he would like to see “a form of legislation next session” that protects children from such events.

“And if it's not, I would love to take all your seats away,” Clark said. “This is absolutely inappropriate and cannot happen in our city ever again,”

This concern and outrage do not come from hate, but from genuine concern for children and their mental health, Clark said.

While some expressed concern, the Pride festival received support from Sandpoint resident Amelia Boyd, who identified herself as an ally of the LBGTQ community. During the public forum, Boyd reminded those present that the U.S. guarantees the right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. Boyd also said that it should be no one else's concern but the parents of the children who were at this event.

Lauren Sanders, a Sandpoint resident, also addressed the council in support of the event. The event is beneficial as it allows more types of people to feel comfortable and accepted in the community. Thus bringing more people to feel comfortable enough to move to Sandpoint and grow the community, she said.

“I just wanted to say, I know it's amazing that Sandpoint is happening at Pride festivals because it's that our community is accepted, accepting, and welcoming of all walks of life, and what we're doing is we're providing a safe space for people,” Sanders said.

While the council did not address the concerns, Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad told those present that there were police at the Pride Festival and advised there were no reports of nudity or inappropriate behavior.

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