The Stonewall Inn Hosts Community Service Animal and Disability Access Training

An important step towards an accessible future.

Yesterday, The Stonewall Inn teamed up with Disability Rights New York, the Guide Dog Foundation and America’s Vet Dogs to host an LBGTQ Nightlife Community Service Animal and Disability Access Training.  The GO staff attended and was so happy to be a part of such an important conversation.

Recently, the internet was in a buzz when one of Stonewall’s doormen refused entry to a visually impaired patron and their guide dog. This is a direct violation of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Because of this, Stonewall took action to further train their staff and fellow community members and business owners. Stonewall apologized for their error, and made it their responsibility to move forward and educate.

“The lack of knowledge many businesses have about ADA laws and in particular, guide and service dogs, was brought to our attention when members of our own staff made an error in judgement.  We wanted to make sure other LGBTQ bars and business were educated and also wanted to bring attention to the concerns of accessibility that disabled members of the LGBTQ community face in attending events, bars and in general feeling welcomed and a part of our community” stated Stacy Lentz Co-owner of the Stonewall Inn.

The event was packed to the brim with many business owners, bartenders, waiters, and community members who were there to support both Stonewall and the disability rights community, as well as educate themselves on the ADA. As a disabled lesbian myself, it was incredibly heartening to see how many people wanted to learn about the disability community, and commit to never letting a discriminatory act happen in their establishments.

“Since 1969, the Stonewall Inn has been an iconic place where civil rights have always been at the forefront of their mission,” said Tim Clune, DRNY Executive Director.  “DRNY is happy to be part of their efforts to provide education which will continue to advance the rights of all people.   The Stonewall Inn is leading by example and we suggest that other businesses should follow accordingly.  DRNY will always be a resource in New York State that will advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.”

“The Guide Dog Foundation is proud of our graduate Lynn Zelvin for standing up for their federally protected access rights, and we also commend the staff at The Stonewall Inn for responding quickly and positively to ensure that their space as well as other local establishments are welcoming to people with disabilities,” said Grete Eide, Chief Canine Care Officer for the Guide Dog Foundation and America’s VetDogs.

The speakers covered topics including:

What are the rights and ADA laws that apply to bars and businesses in New York?
What are your legal obligations regarding service dogs and disability access?
How do you know it’s a service dog? What can you ask and not ask?
How can we create a welcoming environment for disabled customers?

The intersections of the LGBT and disability community are vast, and yet still not talked about enough. This event was an excellent step in the right direction towards the future: one where gay bars are accessible to everyone in the community.