As an African-American and a lesbian, 31-year-old Lapriss Gilbert says she is used to experiencing discrimination on a daily basis. On Monday, however, she found herself the target of hate from an entirely unexpected direction. While Gilbert was visiting a federal building in Van Nuys, California, she was forcibly ejected by a security guard because he found her apparel offensive. Gilbert was wearing a t-shirt promoting the website Lesbian.com.
“As an African-American and a lesbian, I haven’t been through one day without facing some sort of discrimination… but this is just shocking,” Gilbert told the Los Angeles Daily News.
Gilbert had stopped at the federal building on an errand to pick up a social security card for her young son. A security guard patrolling the building stopped her and demanded that she leave the area immediately or face arrest. The unidentified guard, who reportedly works for the private security company Paragon, objected to the language on Gilbert’s t-shirt promoting the website Lesbian.com.
According to the Daily News, the guard stated he was acting under the “Rules and Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property” when he forced Gilbert off the property. However, as noted by Daily News writer Douglas Morino, the document does not specifically address clothing requirements for visitors to a federal building. The guard, whose name has not been released to the press, refused to comment further about the incident.
A spokeswoman for Homeland Security stated that the guard’s actions were “inappropriate and unacceptable,” according to the Daily News.
Gilbert called her mother, Tanya Gilbert, a longtime gay activist, who then reported the incident to the Los Angeles Police Department. Mother and daughter plan to file a lawsuit against the Paragon Security Company over the discriminatory actions of their guard.