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Ensuring Safety and Security: Preparing Pride Organizations

The Importance of Security Preparedness

As June approaches, so does Pride Month, an increased time of celebration, visibility, and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community. While Pride events are moments of joy and solidarity, they also require careful planning to ensure the safety and security of participants. In recent years, there have been instances of security threats and targeted attacks on Pride events, making it imperative for Pride organizations to be prepared for any potential risks. Never take the approach, "Well... this could never happen to us."

The Importance of Security Preparedness

Pride events attract diverse crowds, including LGBTQ+ individuals, allies, families, and supporters. However, they can also draw attention from groups or individuals who oppose LGBTQ+ rights and equality. Threats such as harassment, vandalism, or violence can pose significant risks to the safety and well-being of attendees.

In addition to external threats, Pride organizations must also consider logistical challenges such as crowd control, medical emergencies, and traffic management. Effective security measures are essential not only for ensuring the physical safety of participants but also for maintaining the integrity and spirit of Pride celebrations.

Strategies for Enhancing Security

To mitigate potential risks and ensure a safe environment for all, Pride organizations can implement various security strategies:

  1. Collaboration with Law Enforcement: Working closely with local law enforcement agencies can provide valuable support in terms of crowd management, threat assessment, and emergency response. Establishing open lines of communication and coordination can help address security concerns effectively. This should be done at minimum 60 days out. Reach out to your local contacts at the Police Department, FBI and Homeland Security. Give them dates, times and locations, as well as how many people you think might be attending these events.

  2. Risk Assessment and Planning: Conducting thorough risk assessments of event venues and surrounding areas can identify potential vulnerabilities and inform security planning. Developing comprehensive security plans that address various scenarios, including protests or disruptions, is essential for proactive risk management. Look for exits and areas not supervised that people can slip in from.  Identify your evacuation plan; if one exit is blocked, where is the next exit? 

  3. Security Personnel and Training: Hiring trained security personnel, including licensed guards or event security professionals, can enhance on-site safety and response capabilities. Providing staff and volunteers with relevant training on de-escalation techniques, emergency procedures, and crowd management can empower them to handle challenging situations effectively. When hiring armed security, make sure that they are identifiable to police. Have a shirt they might wear that can’t be bought locally and has a unique design; by doing this, you can eliminate copy-cats or confusion with regular street-wear, making hired security identifiable to you, local law enforcement, and attendees.

  4. Visible Security Measures: Implementing visible security measures such as bag checks, metal detectors, and perimeter fencing can serve as deterrents to potential threats. Clear signage indicating prohibited items or behaviors can also help maintain order and ensure compliance with event guidelines. Like many concert venues, some Prides require clear bags and restrict their size. Post your bag policy, item policy, and other safety policies well in advance on your social media. Transparency in your safety policies and practices will make communicating with your event attendees much easier come the day of your event. 

  5. Community Engagement and Support: Building strong partnerships with local community organizations, LGBTQ+ groups, and advocacy networks can foster a sense of solidarity and mutual support. Encouraging community members to report suspicious activities or concerns can contribute to a collective effort to safeguard Pride events. Community engagement can also help Pride organizers respond to the concerns and needs of the most marginalized members of our community, who often have negative experiences with law enforcement agencies. Take their input into consideration when planning your security plans.

  6. Digital Security and Online Threats: In the digital age, online threats such as cyberbullying, harassment, or misinformation campaigns can impact the safety and reputation of Pride organizations. Implementing robust cybersecurity measures, monitoring social media channels for potential threats, and engaging with online platforms to address harmful content are essential aspects of comprehensive security planning.

Pride organizations must prioritize the safety and security of all participants. By adopting proactive security measures, collaborating with relevant stakeholders, and fostering a culture of inclusivity and resilience, Pride events can remain vibrant celebrations of LGBTQ+ pride and progress. Together, we can ensure that Pride events are a time of joy, empowerment, and affirmation for all members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies.

Remember – See Something, Say Something.  

When reporting suspicious activity please contact your local law enforcement. Describe specifically what you observed, including:

  • Who or What you saw,

  • When you saw it;

  • Where it occurred; and

  • Why it is suspicious. 

Are you a Pride organizer?

Are you a new Pride organizer? Or, perhaps you're a seasoned Pride veteran, but you've never heard of USAP or InterPride? Learn more about the benefits of membership with the premier national organization serving Pride organizers in the United States. One application. One fee. Two memberships. Join a national and international family of Pride!

Written by Chris Davin, executive director of the Henderson Equality Center in Henderson, Nevada, which produces the annual Henderson Pride Fest.

Portions of this article were generated with the assistance of AI, with additions, revisions, and editing performed by a human writer.


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