Florida Children’s Museum Discriminates Against Same-Sex Family

Hands On's Membership Pricing

The Hands On Children’s Museum in Jacksonville, Florida is oddly specific about who it lets obtain a “family membership,” specifying that a family must include one mom and one dad. Karen Lee-Duffell’s family has had a membership there for three years, but when an employee noticed she had a same-sex partner, she was told she’d have to pay more to renew this year.

As far as the museum’s staff is concerned, Lee-Duffell and her partner do not constitute a family. They explained that including both moms would constitute a “substitution,” which they don’t allow because they fear multiple families would take advantage of the policy. They defended the discrimination in a statement provided to First Coast News, comparing Lee-Duffell’s partner to a “friend”:

The Hands On Children’s Museum Family memberships are very specific. They have not changed in 13 years. Our Family membership cost has only gone up $1.00 in almost 13 years. To keep our rates as reasonable as possible, we do not allow any substitutions; whether they are friend, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa or any other person.

She was offered a Family Membership and to add an extra person. She refused to add an extra person to a Family Membership. […] If, in the past the extra person had been added there would have not be [sic] any confusions [sic].

The Museum’s discrimination against some kinds of families is completely legal given Florida does not legally recognize same-sex couples. That does not change the fact that it left Lee-Duffell feeling like she’d received a “punch in the gut” because her family simply didn’t count. There is now a Facebook boycott page and a petition calling on the museum to end its discriminatory policy. (HT: The New Civil Rights Movement.)