A Southwest Florida city recently announced that it would create a “code of conduct” for special events at public facilities after a scandal involving sex toys at an LGBTQ-themed fair.
According to the Florida Standard, Ed Lavallee, the city manager in Venice, said last Tuesday that organizers of a Pride festival held last month at a downtown park shared that they did not know they had any responsibility for the vendors at the event.
As The Free Press reported in November, a group called CAN Community Health, a Sarasota-based nonprofit that serves the local HIV community, sponsored a ring-toss game that featured colorful, inflatable sex toys shaped as large male genitalia.
The festival itself was billed as community-oriented, “celebratory,” and fun for “all ages,” including a section called the “Kids Korner.”
The fallout created a cascade of ignorance from those involved. CAN Community Health said it did not know the Pride festival was advertised as “family friendly.”
City officials claimed they did not sponsor, host, or approve the “details” of this event. In a statement, they also expressed disappointment that “some of the actual event activities did not align with the approved event description.”
In addition to the ring-toss fiasco, the Standard reported that men at the festival tried to pole dance on a lamp post.
After the scandal erupted, largely because the conservative social media account Libs of Tik Tok shared images of the event, the local Republican Party called for an investigation, which led to the new code of conduct.
“There appears to be some lack of clarity on what that responsibility was,” Lavalle said at a City Council meeting last week regarding the organizers’ duties to hold an event on public property.
“We certainly would not approve an application that would suggest any of that,” he added of the controversial display at the Pride Festival, which had promoted itself as family-friendly.
Under the newly proposed code of conduct, “the event host must ensure the activities are appropriate and not violate state and local laws,” The Standard reported.