A so-called "straight pride" parade may be coming to California as Modesto officials weigh whether to approve plans for the event that would "celebrate heterosexuality."
City officials are reviewing an application for a permit to hold the event Aug. 24 in Graceada Park, Thomas Reeves, a spokesperson for the City Manager's Office in Modesto, told USA TODAY.
Reeves said the event was flagged to the city's executive team as being "potentially sensitive" but that it was going through the approval process as any other event permit would.
"We can't deny a permit based on values," Reeves said. "The approval of this permit would definitely not be an endorsement or sponsorship of any particular message by the city."
Fliers circulating on social media advertising the event list not just "heterosexuality" but also "western civilization" and "Christianity" as causes of celebration. According to the Anti-Defamation League, white nationalist organizations often use terms like "promoting western civilization" as code words.
"There's essentially a war between two opposing religions. One is Christianity, and the other is satanism and humanism," Don Grundmann, head of the National Straight Pride Coalition, told USA TODAY.
Grundmann, who is based in San Jose, however, insisted his group defends all races.
Describing a "broad cultural attack" on white people, traditional gender roles and "western civilization," Grundmann said "straight pride" as opposed to LGBTQ pride serves a summation of those opposing religious view points.
Grundmann said he's confident his group will get approval for the event, and he's planning for about 500 people to attend.
The city hopes to make a decision by the end of the week, Reeves said. The permit is currently being reviewed by various departments within the city government, he added.
"We've done research, we know what's being said out there, we know what this group has on its website, but that can't go into our decision making process on this," Reeves said.
Some in Modesto have been critical of the event.
"Have you ever been fired from a job for being straight? Have you been banned from the USA for being Christian? No? That’s because it’s Straight pride day EVERY DAY," Modesto Progressive Democrats wrote in a Facebook post.
An event to protest the "straight pride" parade on the group's Facebook page already has more than 300 people RSVP'ed and a thousand more interested in going.
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Rep. Josh Harder, D-Calif., who represents Modesto, said he was "concerned about the organization’s troubling references to race."
"This sends a terrible message to our LGBTQ kids, who are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. A lot of these kids already feel alone and scared – this just makes things worse for them," Harder said in a statement.
Kristi Ah You, a Modesto city council member, was also critical of the event and told CBS Sacramento that she wouldn't consider the permit, if it were up to her.
"I don’t think we need to give a permit for anything that when you go to the page it talks about whiteness, it talks about western civilization, it talks about being Caucasian. That’s all hate crime stuff to me, that’s not okay," Ah You told the TV station.
Plans for the event come as a similar parade in Boston received approval last month.
Organized by a group called Super Happy Fun America and aiming to celebrate "the diverse history, culture and contributions of the straight community," Boston's "straight pride" parade is slated for Aug. 31.
When plans for the Boston event were announced, critics called it a clear dig against LGTBQ pride parades and said it mocked the events that celebrate progress made by the LGBTQ community in the face of oppression.
Grundmann said he hasn't been in contact with organizers of the Boston event, but said the two events are "completely different" despite similar names.
"We have a far more comprehensive philosophy of why we need to do what we need to do," he said.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Straight pride' parade in Modesto, California, may get approval