Updated: On Thursday afternoon, Ohio State University released a statement announcing Brutus Buckeye’s reinstatement in the Stonewall Columbus Pride Parade.
The statement reads, in part, “After additional consultation and reviews, the spirit program has decided to reinstate Brutus Buckeye in the Columbus Pride Festival and Parade on Saturday.”
A petition started circulating Wednesday night calling for Brutus Buckeye to rejoin the Columbus Pride Parade. In the wake of the Orlando, Florida, attack on an LGBT nightclub that left 50 dead, Ohio State pulled Brutus from the parade, as was first reported by Outlook Ohio Magazine on Wednesday.
“After the attack against our community in Orlando, LGBTQ Ohioans need support from allies like The Ohio State University more than ever,” the petition reads. “But OSU is turning its back on our community when we need their support the most.”
The petition, set up on Change.org, was sitting at 207 signatures at the time this story was published. It is to be delivered to the administration of OSU.
Seth Bringman, a Columbus resident and member of the LGBT community, started the petition to bring attention to the issue.
“I wanted to let the administration know that this was something the community was looking forward to,” Bringman said of Brutus’ appearance in the parade.
Ohio State spokesman Ben Johnson noted that University President Michael Drake would be at the parade, and referred comment to a news release put out on Wednesday.
“The Ohio State University unequivocally supports diversity and inclusive excellence,” the release read. “As has been the case for years, the university will take part in the Columbus Pride Festival and Parade, including a campus-wide group of faculty, staff, students and senior officials led by President Michael Drake.”
Ultimately, according to the release, the decision to withdraw Brutus was “due to expressed concerns” from the spirit program.
The spirit program did not respond to requests for further details.
The participation of Brutus is the only change in the lineup of the parade which cited safety concerns, said Karla Rotham, executive director of Stonewall Columbus, the LGBT group organizing the parade and this week’s Pride events.
Rotham said she had been working with the Columbus Division of Police and the Ohio Department of Homeland Security to make sure the event would be safe.
A news briefing was held Monday with Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs and leadership from Stonewall, where Jacob said there would be extra security, although she wasn’t concerned about the parade being unsafe.
“Security is something that we never take lightly,” Jacobs is quoted saying in a statement on Pride’s website, “but this year we will increase our uniformed and undercover presence, not because we expect something to happen as much as assure our citizens and visitors that we take their safety seriously.”
Rotham was positive about the partnership.
“They have been a huge presence all week,” Rotham told The Lantern, noting that she was “thrilled” with the extra work they’re putting in.
For Bringman, the events in Orlando make Brutus’ appearance that much more important.
“There’s a number of sports fans in the LGBTQ community,” said Bringman. “Brutus is a symbol of pride for the whole state, so there would be nothing better after what happened in Orlando than for everyone to see him coming down High Street.”
Bringman added that if there is concern for the safety of the student dressed as the mascot, several members of the LGBT community would be happy to dress as Brutus for the parade.
“We would love to work with OSU to reach a solution because this is so important to the community,” he said.