Palm Springs Pride: San Bernardino County Sheriff to march in parade

San Bernardino County Sheriff

Deputies from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department march in the LA Pride Parade along Santa Monica Boulevard in June. It was the first time in the department’s 162-year history that it had marched in a Pride Parade. Photo: Ken Lutz

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department — which settled a federal discrimination lawsuit filed by gay, bisexual, and transgenders inmates — will march in Sunday’s Greater Palm Springs Pride Parade.

It will be the first time that uniformed deputies and employees have participated in the parade, according to the San Bernardino Sun.

Parade Participants

It’s only the second time in the department’s 162-year history that they have marched in a Pride Parade — The first time was in June at the LA Pride Parade.

Q Voice News contacted the sheriff’s department, but haven’t received an answer as to why the department waited until 2018 to march in a Pride Parade.

The department has some deputies who identify as gay and lesbian. Lt. Ken Lutz told the Sun that marching in the parade means “Not only does the public see that we are an inclusive organization that supports the community, but employees know they have the support of the public and the department.”

Discrimination Lawsuit

That statement might be a little too optimistic considering that the department doesn’t have the best track record with the queer community.

In August, gay, bisexual, and transgender inmates settled a federal, class action lawsuit against the sheriff, who discriminated against the inmates by locking them in their cells for up to 23 hours a day and prohibiting them from participating in jail programs.

Significant Changes

The settlement would require significant changes in jail housing, work and educational program availability, staff training, and the establishment of a no-tolerance policy for harassment of gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex  people in San Bernardino County jails.

“The settlement agreement was entered into with the vision of treating GBTI inmates as equals in jail, and to recognize their humanity and right to humane treatment,” attorney David S. McLane, who worked on the case with the ACLU of Southern California, told Q Voice News. “Their identity and orientation should not subject them to second class citizenship, and we believe that this agreement places our clients on equal footing with straight inmates. They deserve no less.”

Phillip Zonkel can be reached at phillip.zonkel@qvoicenews.com or 562-294-5996.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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