LGBTQ community protests outside conservative conference

Published: Nov. 12, 2019 at 10:16 PM EST
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By: Katie Kaplan | WCTV Eyewitness News

November 12, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Roughly two dozen members of the LGBTQ community gathered to protest outside of Hotel Duval in downtown Tallahassee on Tuesday night. Members of the group said they were fighting back against alleged hate speech that was happening at a conference inside.

"We're here today to protest the nature of the conference," said Lakey Love with the Tallahassee Community Activist Committee. "We just want to let them know that we're not going away."

A conservative group called the Freedom Speaks Coalition was holding a forum called 'Parent Power 2020.' Organizers said it aimed to enlighten parents about what goes on inside public schools, including "protecting" Pre-K through 5th-grade students from LGBTQ gender training.

"This that we're doing has nothing to do with anything except protecting the kids," said President Bev Kilmer. "Period."

Among the two dozen protesters was Commissioner Jeremy Matlow with the City of Tallahassee.

"If you're standing against people's identity, any way you shake it, that's hate," he said.

"It's not 1950," added protester Wil Winburn. "It's 2019. Get with the program."

Attendees adamantly denied there was any hate speech during the conference.

"If they think it's necessary to teach five-year-old children about homosexuality or their pronouns, I think we would disagree there," said Alex Newman, who spoke at the conference.

"What they're trying to do is indoctrinate our children and our children deserve to have their innocence," Kilmer said.

However, that type of education in public schools is seen as support by members of the LGBTQ community.

"We exist at any age and all kids are taught about being straight," said protester Kathryn Lane. "We're not asking that anyone be taught about being queer, but we're asking not to be erased."

Protesters said they felt the conversation was an attack on the progress they have made.