Hands On Children's Museum: Florida Museum Revokes Family Membership From Same-Sex Couple


The Hands On Children's Museum of Jacksonville, Fla., is dedicated to providing families with children a fun and educational experience. So why is it denying Karen Lee-Duffell's family a full-year pass?

Apparently, the museum is choosy about exactly who qualifies for a "family membership."

Lee-Duffell's family has been on the family membership plan for three years now, but the museum hadn't noticed until recently that her family constituted of two moms and a child. Once they did, they insisted that if she wanted a family membership, she would have to pay extra to have her partner on it as well. After all, a family is only a mother and a father.

When Lee-Duffell complained, the museum defended themselves on the local news, stating that Lee-Duffell's partner was similar to a "friend" and therefore, they could not allow her in on the family membership without also allowing random substitutions for parents, like aunts or grandparents, for other families. They ended their statement by concluding that the museum policy had not changed in over 13 years, and the fact that Lee-Duffell had had a family membership for three years was an oversight in their application of the policy that they were now rectifying by requiring her to pay for an extra member.

Technically, this action by the Children's Museum is not a violation of any civil liberty of Lee-Duffell since Florida does not (yet) legally recognize same-sex couples. The museum is completely within legal grounds to deny Lee-Duffell, her partner, and their son the right to be a family within their institution.

However legal their action may be, it's no less discriminatory or despicable. Lee-Duffell said that it felt like a "punch in the gut" to know that her family "did not count," and there's no doubting that her son would feel the same to know that his mothers were being discounted simply because they loved each other.

If your policy hasn't changed in over 13 years, Children's Museum of Jacksonville, then maybe it's time to consider changing it. The world isn't the same as it was 13 years ago, and we define the term "family" a little more broadly today. Lee-Duffell, and the rest of us, would appreciate if you caught up with the times.