Sesame Place announces diversity initiatives after accusations of racial bias

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Last month, a black family accused Sesame Place Philadelphia character performers of racial discrimination and filed a lawsuit against parent company SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment in federal court in Pennsylvania.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Quinton Burns and her child, says that while visiting Sesame Place in June, employees dressed as ‘Sesame Street’ characters only interacted with white visitors at an event meeting.

By the end of September, all employees will undergo training and education programs led by national experts, Sesame Place said in a statement Tuesday. The programs are designed to fight bias, promote inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure guests and employees feel welcome, he added.

“The initiatives include a comprehensive racial equity assessment, the development and implementation of an anti-bias training and education program, and enhancements to ensure a diversity, equity and diversity program. world-class inclusion (DE&I),’ he said.

“The racial equity assessment will include a review of policies, processes and practices that impact customers, employees, suppliers and the community to identify opportunities for improvement.”

Training will become a regular part of workforce development and will extend to all new employees.

“We have already begun to engage with employees, guests, civil rights groups as well as community leaders, and have put in place interim measures at the park while the review unfolds. The actions we are taking will help us deliver on our promise to provide a fair and inclusive experience for all of our guests every day,” said Cathy Valeriano, President of Sesame Place Philadelphia. “We are committed to making our guests feel welcome, included and enriched by their visits to our park.”

The lawsuit alleges employees dressed as “Sesame Street” characters Elmo, Ernie, Telly Monster and Abby Cadabby refused to engage with the Burns family and ignored other black guests in attendance.

The lawsuit did not specify the race of the employees or describe the interaction in detail. This followed a public apology from amusement park officials to another black family after a video went viral on social media showing two black children seemingly snubbed by Rosita’s character.

In addition to monetary demands, the lawsuit asked the court to compel the defendants to issue formal apologies to black Americans.

He also asked the company to conduct psychological screenings to avoid hiring racist people, provide existing employees with mandatory cultural sensitivity training and hire a national expert to educate them on the history. discrimination against blacks in America.

CNN’s Lauren del Valle contributed to this report.

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