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Provo Freedom Festival revokes approval for LGBT resource center in Grand Parade

Provo Freedom Festival revokes approval for LGBT resource center in Grand Parade (File photo: MGN Online)

(KUTV) The annual Provo Freedom Festival decided July 3 that a local LGBT resource center would not be allowed to walk in Grand Parade, according to Encircle: LGBT + Family & Youth Resource Center.

The Festival, according to its website, "highlights freedom through bands, professionally crafted floats, giant helium balloons and local and national performers," while encouraging participants to "promote patriotism and traditional family values to around 300,000 spectators."

According to a Facebook post by Encircle, the Festival revoked its previously approved application to participate because it is being classified as an advocacy group.

Encircle disputes that classification, however, citing its status as a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

Nolo, a website offering multiple types of legal guidance, says 501c3 organizations may not participate in political campaigns. Nolo advises they may, however, "engage in non-partisan activities and legislative or issue advocacy."

Encircle maintains it does not advocate any "certain political party or legal action."

According to its website, the group "functions as a hub for resources that support the overall well being of LGBTQ individuals." Encircle, which opened its doors February 14 of this year, offers community, skills training, and counseling, among other services.

"We maintain, as we always have, that our mission is to 'Empower families to sustain the circle of their love, enabling each member to thrive,'" the group said in its Facebook post addressing the parade's decision. "We respect the decision of the parade committee and will use this as an opportunity to show Provo who we are. We will always come from a place of love and intention, never fear or reaction. We are here to be a safe space for all, which means being planted firmly."

The group will hold a pancake breakfast at 8 a.m. July 4 at its Provo Resource Center, located at 91 West 200 South.

Encircle's statement, in its entirety, reads as follows:

Dear Encircle Family and Friends:
We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being willing to walk with us in the America's Freedom Festival Parade in Provo tomorrow morning. We know you are all as excited as we are to spend time together celebrating the Fourth and our freedoms as families and as a community.
Encircle: LGBTQ+ Family and Youth Resource Center opened fewer than six months ago, and as such a young organization, it seems we have not yet been able to sufficiently introduce ourselves to the broader Provo community. Initially, our application to the America’s Freedom Festival Parade was approved; however, today we learned that our group is no longer allowed to participate. We are disappointed that we have been rejected for being classified as an “advocacy group." As a 501c3, we dispute this classification. We do not and never have advocated a certain political party or legal action. We maintain, as we always have, that our mission is to “Empower families to sustain the circle of their love, enabling each member to thrive.”
We respect the decision of the parade committee and will use this as an opportunity to show Provo who we are. We will always come from a place of love and intention, never fear or reaction. We are here to be a safe space for all, which means being planted firmly.
In lieu of walking in the parade with us tomorrow, please join us for a pancake breakfast at the Encircle home. We will get started at 8 am.
Thank you all for your continued support.
No sides, Only Love:
The Encircle Team

UPDATE: Paul Warner, the executive director of the Freedom Festival, told 2News Wednesday he and Encircle were planning to meet sometime next week. He declined comment on the matter until after that meeting is complete.


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