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Gay Skaters Win Handholding Case Against Ice Rink

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Gay Skaters Win Handholding Case Against Ice Rink

by Mary Ellen Peterson, 365Gay.com San Francisco Bureau

May 11, 2006 - 12:01 am ET

(Oakland, California) An Oakland area skating rink will require its employees to undergo diversity training and prominently display placards stating its commitment to equal rights as part of a settlement to end a lawsuit by two gay skaters who were ordered by a rink manager to stop holding hands while doing pairs figure skating.

Alan Lessik, 52, and John Manzon-Santos, 41, say they were shocked when they were told by the manager of Berkeley Iceland to break up their skating partnership.

In court documents filed in Alameda County Superior Court the men say that the manager ordered them on two occasions last year to stop skating while holding hands. (story)

The skating duo are not a couple but say they enjoy skating together. They met at the Gay Games in Sydney, Australia and were practicing at Iceland in preparation for this summer's Gay Games in Chicago.

In part the placards will read “[iceland] undertakes continual efforts to open the world of skating to individuals in an environment free from intimidation, harassment, or bias.”

They will be placed in Iceland locations in Berkeley, Dublin, and Belmont.

The settlement was reached out of court less than a week after the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed the lawsuit on behalf of Lessik and Manzon-Santos.

NCLR senior counsel Karen Doering praised Iceland for acting quickly to resolve the suit.

"They seriously listened to our concerns, recognized discrimination is damaging, and are taking every step to ensure discrimination does not happen at their establishments, including educating all of their employees with diversity trainings," she said.

The agreement also requires the company to make donations to both NCLR and the Federation of Gay Games. In addition East Bay Iceland will issue a public apology and confirm their commitment to equal treatment of all patrons. Berkeley Iceland will host a Gay/Straight Skate Night on a monthly basis, as well as sign the “Tip of the Iceberg” anti-discrimination pledge. The Berkeley rink will offer weekly “pairs preferred” freestyle skating sessions, and Manzon-Santos and Lessik willl receive free admission to the sessions for one year.

©365Gay.com 2006


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