Dolly Parton's Dollywood Charged With Gay Discrimination

Gay advocacy groups are charging Dolly Parton's Dollywood theme park with discrimination after a lesbian wearing a ‘‘Marriage Is So Gay" t-shirt was told at the gate that she must turn the shirt inside-out before she could enter.

Olivier Odom decided to oblige to the request of the employee of the Knoxville park by hiding the slogan. She then entered with her spouse of one year, Jennifer Tipton.

Odom, under the advice of a group called Campaign for Southern Equality, has since written a letter to the park about the incident that occurred two weeks ago. The letter was published online in the “Censorship in America” blog and several gay advocacy media sites earlier this week.

“To ensure that your customers are not treated this way in the future, I would like to see Dollywood implement policies that are inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people; conduct staff sensitivity training; and issue a public statement indicating that the park is inclusive of all families,” Odom wrote.

A Dollywood spokesperson said the incident was a misunderstanding and a matter of a strict dress code policy, according to news reports.

"Thousands of times a day our front gate hosts are asked to enforce our dress code policy,” the spokesperson, Pete Owens, told The Advocate.

"It doesn't have anything to do with who the people are or what their belief system is or with anything other than the fact that we try to prevent as best as we can upon entry of the park one of our guests being offended by something someone else is wearing.”

WBIR-TV in Knoxville reports that purchase of the shirt worn by Odom raises money for an organization that promotes gay marriage. Odom wrote the letter to the park under advisement from an organization called the Campaign for Southern Equality, the station reported.

Dollywood enforces a strict dress code policy. “To preserve our family atmosphere proper clothing is required including shirts and shoes (sandals or flip-flops are acceptable). Clothing with offensive words and/or pictures will not be permitted inside the park.”

“Dollywood reserves the right to require additional or different attire where we deem appropriate.”

Officials with Dollywood say they plan to contact the couple to address the complaint.

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