Toleration and diversity at the amusement park

Tonight I had another interesting evening at Worlds of Fun.For the third weekend of the Halloween Haunt we arrived at opening, took a walk around the park, some of us rode the Spinning Dragons, then we dispersed to pick up supper. Betsy and I got Subway, the daughter got Vittle Griddle, and the son picked up Chickie’s and Pete’s. He had the longest wait, so we all took our food over to Chickie’s and Pete’s and ate together there.

It was while we were there that a security guard, with two other guards behind him it tow, asked if he could speak to me. He asked me to step over to the side room, where it was quiet and there were no other guests. When there, he explained to me that they had received two or three complaints from people that my shorts were too short, and that I was exposing myself.

I said that I had worn this all summer without complaint, and what was the standard I was supposed to follow. He said that they had to consider the reaction of the other guests, and that if they got another complaint they would have to ask me to go home and change my clothes.

When I got back to the table I told the family what they had talked about, and we talked about how people had gone shirtless through the park right past security guards all summer without anyone talking to him, and how women wore shorts just as short as mine with no complaints. I also wondered if I was being targeted by those complaining because I was a male wearing these clothes, a form of discrimination on our part.

This picture, taken earlier in the summer, is the same wardrobe I was wearing tonight when the guards received the complaint. The only changes are a different set of glasses, and I was wearing rope sandal without socks.

Since we had planned to eat and then leave before the Overlord’s Awakening occurred, that is exactly what we did. We didn’t let the situation change our actions. Except that I stopped at guest relations on the way out. I waited in line about ten minutes to get to the front of the line. When there I told Patrick, apologies, but I think I will need to talk to someone with higher rank than you. Apologies if I am wrong, but I have a legal question.

When he asked what type of question, I explained that three security guards had pulled me aside to say people had complained about how I was dressed, that my shorts were too short, and I was exposing myself. His look was sort of incredulous. He told me he thought I looked fine. I said I had no complaints, I just wanted to talk to someone that I could get a statement and understanding of the park’s policy on this. He said he’d call his manager. He had me step to the side while he left the booth to retrieve his manager.

After perhaps another five minutes he returned with two people, Jake and Wesley. We stepped inside and went toward a back corner where we could discuss the issue without disturbing other park goers.

I prefaced my comment by stating that I had no complaints with the security guards, but that I wanted a clarification on policy. I repeated their comments, and got  assurance from both Jake and Wesley that my dress was appropriate to the code. They asked me to confirm the security guards. I verified that they had the white shirts, dark slacks, security shield, walkie-talkie packs, etc., and what while I could not remember their names, they were familiar faces of people I had seen working at the park all summer.

I emphasized that I just wanted to understand the policy, and wanted to make sure I wasn’t being singled out by the complaintants because I was a man, instead of a woman, wearing these clothes.

Their assurance was that everything was fine, I met code, and they weren’t sure why I was specifically singled out. I emphasized that I had no complaints against security, they were responding to other guests reactions, I know they need to keep the park family friendly, and the park has the right to make its own rules. I just wanted to ensure that I knew the rules to stay on the right side of them, and wasn’t being discriminated against.

We parted with them assuring me that I was fine, and I volunteered and gave them my name and contact information. I told them I didn’t expect to be contacted, but if they did have anything they wanted to get ahold of me for, I wanted to make sure they knew they had the right information, to line me up with my information in their database that goes with my being a season passholder.

And so we left the park and on the way out the gate I struck up a pleasant conversation with another lady of around my age about the loud music of the overload.

I report all this just to show how easily it is for people to make judgments about other people around them, to feel discomfort and dis-ease, and to feel that they need to pass judgment on others around them, even to requesting the intervention of authority. And that in such circumstances one needs to be polite — as the security people were — but one also needs to stand up for ones self and get clarification.

The security people had their perspective, and I got it. I didn’t go to the guest services to go around them, but to get a different perspective, a more managerial/supervisory park perspective, that the security people might not have, and to ensure I was acting appropriately, while also standing up, and out for myself.

I do dress a little differently. I have gotten several people come up to me and ask me where I get the clothes — they have an interest in finding them for themselves. I also know there are others who take a second look, and might find them somewhat humorous to there sense of style. Those I do not mind and let pass. But to have the lascivious accusations from tonight, those sorts of things must be confronted and clarified when they occur, and properly documented, in case questions arise in the future.

So, in case anyone was unclear, I am totally satisfied with the park and the way they handled the situation, and do not intend to change my attendance plans for the park this fall.


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