Watch What You Wear To A Federal Building!

According to Douglas Morino, staff writer for the Los Angeles Daily News, Lapriss Gilbert, of Van Nuys, California, was forced to leave the Federal Building on what had been a “routine trip to the Social Security office” last Monday.

The reason?  She was wearing a T-shirt that said “”

Apparently the guard, working for Paragon Security Company, hired by the Department of Homeland Security, felt that “” – which, by the way, is an educational and resource website for gay women – was offensive.

Note: the woman is Afro-Anerican. Afro-American and Lesbian…that’s obviously a matter for national concern. Except that Lori Haley, a federal spokeswoman for the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division which falls under the umbrella of the Homeland Security Dept, “said the guard was out of line.”

Haley is quoted in Morino’s article as saying, “We believe that the actions of the contract security guard were inappropriate and unaccaptable…”

The guard tried to cite The Rules and Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property as his justification for keeping Ms. Gilbert out. Accept she was conducting herself, according to all witnesses, very respectfully and in a quiet manner. It was the guard who was doing all the shouting.

Not only has Haley’s department given Paragon official notice of the inappropriate conduct of their personnel, Lapriss’ mother, Tanya Gilbert, just happens to be a longtime gay rights activist.

Tanya Gilbert, who had called the LAPD police to protest her daughter’s treatment, plans to contact her attorney to file a lawsuit.

Right On, Mom!

To the Federal Building’s credit, before the officers arrived along with a federal agent, Lapriss had been escorted back into the building and to the front of the line.

Now, what happens the next time some sub-contractor decides to super-impose his/her prejudice, moral judgements, or “values” in a public situtation like that?  Even the ACLU said this type of discrimination in a Federal Building was rare – but it happened.

Wearing a T-Shirt that sports a slogan comes under the First Rights Amendment of Freedom of Speech. I’ve seen alot more offensive shirts than that. And how about those boys who walk in with their shorts half way down to their knees and their underwear showing? What kind of treatment do they get?  If they’re Afro-American? If they’re Caucasian?

So everyone within reason agrees in this case that one person was out of line. Then we need to see what are the procedures for weeding out that one personality type from potentially dangerous scenerios such as this.

Since “9-11” our freedoms have been eroded in a purposeful campaign based on keeping everyone afraid. Put somebody in a uniform and give them “authority” – and watch what else we lose.

Here’s another question: Was that guard armed?

On Monday, Lapriss Gilbert lost some time out of her day. Thankfully, she didn’t lose her life. -MsQueer

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©2008 and Deborah Adler. All rights reserved.

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