Organizers of a “Youth Carnival” sponsored by two Indiana LGBTQ+ associations and the Indianapolis Airport Authority will not allow parents to attend with their children.

According to an Instagram post by Indiana Youth Group, it is collaborating with Indy Pride to hold the carnival for “youth” ages 12 to 20 at an activity center nicknamed “The Pit” on June 7 from 1 to 6 p.m. 

The event, restricted to those “youth,” promises games, vendors, food, fun, and unspecified “entertainment.”

Indiana Youth Group describes itself as an organization that “serves young people ages 12-24 who self-identify as LGBTQ+, as well as their ally peers.” On its website, the group says it “strives to provide safer spaces to build self-confidence, explore individualism, and develop friendships within the LGBTQ+ community.”

The Daily Signal sought comment from Indiana Youth Group’s director of youth services and its director of young adult services, including on what the entertainment would be. Neither responded by time of publication.

Parents aren’t allowed to attend the carnival with their children, but are encouraged to “participate in other activities offsite” at nearby Trinity Lutheran Church, or to “explore the city.”

Moms for Liberty founder Tiffany Justice, whose group champions parents’ rights, called this provision “a red flag.” 

“Why would parents send their kids anywhere they aren’t welcome?” Justice asked The Daily Signal

Discordantly, Indiana Youth Group claims on its website to “advocate for LGBTQ+ youth … through family support services,” although families aren’t invited to the June 7 event.

Indiana Youth Group’s Instagram post describes the carnival as a “youth” event, but the allowed age range includes adults ages 18 through 20.

The organization did not comment on this discrepancy when The Daily Signal reached out for an explanation.

Parental rights advocates have expressed serious concerns over the sexual content at so-called Pride festivals and events over the last decade. Parents say they have been shocked and horrified over overt sexual displays by drag queens performing and mimicking sexual acts in front of children at self-described “family-friendly” events.

In 2020, Indiana Youth Group launched Project Prism, which it describes as a “rapid rehousing project … focused specifically on serving LGBTQ+ young adults.” The group says its program rehouses LGBTQ+ young adults from “unsupportive” homes and parents. 

Indiana Youth Group CEO Chris Paulsen told The Indianapolis Star that “many of these youth are homeless due to family rejection,” adding: “After coming out to their families, youth are often thrown out of their homes or left feeling like they have no choice but to leave.”

It wasn’t clear whether Indiana Youth Group plans to use the Youth Carnival to advertise Project Prism free from parental supervision.

Indiana state Rep. Jake Teshka, R-South Bend, said such an event shouldn’t be marketed toward children at all. He told The Daily Signal in a written statement:

The idea that there would be a festival based solely on sexual identity and replete with sexual themes aimed at youth is in and of itself very troubling. To think that organizers would explicitly forbid parental involvement is simply untenable. 

In the legislature I have fought for the recognition of parents’ right to direct the upbringing of their children. It’s disheartening to know that an organization supported in part by the state would further try to separate parents from kids.

Indiana Youth Group receives funds via the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles for IYG vanity plate subscriptions.

When one parent asked how adolescents and teenagers would be kept safe during the Youth Carnival, Indiana Youth Group responded to the parent:

All IYF events and programming are run with staff, volunteers, and trained security personnel. All of these individuals must undergo intensive, thorough background checks with the state and the Department of Child Services, as well as competency, safety, and crisis intervention trainings.

Although Indiana Youth Group says that the Indianapolis Airport Authority is presenting the Youth Carnival, authority officials told The Daily Signal:

The Indianapolis Airport Authority is committed to being an inclusive and welcoming place for everyone. [The Youth Carnival] is hosted in partnership with the Indiana Youth Group and Indy Pride. The Indianapolis Airport Authority is one of many sponsors, and not a host of the event.

In response to The Daily Signal’s question about planned entertainment, officials at the airport authority suggested that questions related to “event specifics” could be answered by Indiana Youth Group or Indy Pride.

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