AUSTIN, Texas — LGBTQ+ youth organization Out Youth has said it will not have young people ages 17 or younger participate in Saturday’s Pride parade in Austin due to safety concerns.
In a post to Facebook on Wednesday night, Out Youth said its board members, staff and adult volunteers will still take part in the festival and march in the parade.
“This is not to say that we lack faith in Austin Pride or the Austin Police Department,” Out Youth said. “They have provided us with ample reassurance that the parade and festival will be safe and secure. But it is neither responsible nor ethical for us to put our youth in harm’s way in dangerous times such as these.”
The organization said it hoped the move would “make it unequivocally clear that it is not enough to say of gun violence, racism, xenophobia and transphobia ‘it will get better,’ but that it must get better now.”
Youth members interested in participating on Saturday will be able to attend a Pride Parade Watch Party from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The move comes after Pride announced it was increasing security measures following the weekend’s deadly mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton.
"We're always good on security." said Micah Andress, Austin Pride president. "A lot of the stuff has always been there, but we've definitely asked for some increased presence this year."
He said the City estimates more than 400,000 people to flood the streets of Austin this upcoming Saturday. After the mass shootings, Andress said safety is now an even bigger priority.
“There’s added security around the Capitol, there’s added security along the route," said Andress. "We have uniformed and un-uniformed officers out, APD, the constable, Travis County Sheriff’s Office and state police.”
A security expert told KVUE mass shootings are a concern for large special events.
"The Austin Police Department is a very well-trained and well-prepared police department," said Stratfor chief security officer Fred Burton. "I don't think they have enough resources to combat the growth that's taking place in the city, combined with the never-ending special events. Those kind of worry me."
Founded in 1990, Out Youth provides LGBTQ+ youth and allies with programs and services, as well as trainings and resources for parents, teachers and community leaders.
KVUE is a proud supporter and sponsor of Austin Pride this year. We will be live streaming the entire parade Saturday, Aug. 10, at the YouTube link below.
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