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.
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.”
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.
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 [email protected] or 562-294-5996.