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SF Pride won't boot Google from LGBTQ parade

  • The group behind this weekend's planned LGBTQ parade in San Francisco rejected calls by some Google workers that the internet company be excluded from the annual event.
  • The employees were upset that the company declined to take down YouTube clips posted by a conservative commentator and comedian thay they claimed were homophobic and racist.
  • The parade organizers said "Google has been a considerate partner of SF Pride for a number of years."

The group organizing this weekend's San Francisco Pride parade is resisting calls from some Google employees that it exclude the internet company from the annual march, calling it a "strong ally to LGBTQ+ communities."

The San Francisco Pride Celebration Committee on Wednesday acknowledged getting a petition from nearly 100 Google workers urging organizers to bar Google from the celebration because of its handling of hate speech. But the group said Google would participate in the parade as planned.

"Google has been a considerate partner of SF Pride for a number of years, and has historically been a strong ally to LGBTQ+ communities," the group said in a statement. "Google has long offered substantial benefits to their same-sex couple and transgender employees, and shown valuable public advocacy, opposing unfair legislation targeting LGBTQ communities, particularly trans individuals.  

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A spokesperson for Alphabet-owned Google noted that the company has marched in the parade for more than a decade, saying in a statement that "we are excited to continue the tradition this weekend."

The controversy erupted after YouTube said video clips by Steven Crowder, a conservative commentator and comedian, did not violate its policies. After some employees protested the decision, Google disabled Crowder's channel's ability to profit from ads, but it did not remove videos showing him making homophobic and racist jokes.

"Whenever we press for change, we are told only that the company will 'take a hard look at these policies,'" the employees wrote in a letter posted online and sent Wednesday to the board of directors of San Francisco Pride. 

The workers also called for Google to be dropped as a sponsor of the parade and denied any presence at the event itself. "[W]e are always told to be patient. We are always told to wait. For a large company, perhaps waiting is prudent, but for those whose very right to exist is threatened, we say there is no time to waste, and we have waited too long, already," they said.

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SF Pride said Google and YouTube "can and must do more to elevate and protect the voices of LGBTQ+ creators on their platform, and we've found that Google has been willing to listen to this criticism and is working to develop appropriate policies."

Google employees said some wanted to demonstrate against YouTube while marching with their company during the parade, but Google made it known that the action being floated would violate its code of conduct, according to the employee letter. "They claim the contingent is their official representation, and we may not use their platform to express an opinion that is not their opinion. In short, they rejected any compromise," they wrote.