Sesame Place to implement diversity initiatives after racial bias incident

The move follows several online allegations and a class action lawsuit.

August 10, 2022, 10:42 AM

Following a barrage of online allegations of racial bias and one $25 million class action lawsuit, Sesame Place has announced initiatives to help expand its "commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion."

These efforts include comprehensive racial equity assessment, an anti-bias training and education program as well as enhancements to pre-existing diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

PHOTO: Big Bird is shown on a sign near an entrance to Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pa., Dec. 26, 2019.
Big Bird is shown on a sign near an entrance to Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pa., Dec. 26, 2019.
Jeff Chiu/AP, FILE

"We have already begun engaging with employees, guests, civil rights groups as well as community leaders, and instituted some interim measures at the park while the review proceeds," Cathy Valeriano, president of Sesame Place Philadelphia, said in a statement.

She continued, "The actions we are taking will help us deliver on our promise to provide an equitable and inclusive experience for all our guests every day. We are committed to making sure our guests feel welcome, included and enriched by their visits to our park."

Sesame Place is a licensed park partner of Sesame Workshop and is owned by Sea World.

Attorney B’Ivory LaMarr, who represents the family of two young Black girls who claimed they were dismissed by a Sesame Place character during a visit, will be meeting with the SeaWorld CEO alongside parents and civil rights leaders on Aug. 11.

"It is our hope that this previously scheduled meeting will address the deficiencies we have noted from this most recent press release," LaMarr said in a statement to ABC News. "We will provide a more detailed statement following this meeting."

The family behind the $25 million lawsuit did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment on the newly announced efforts.

In a press release, Sesame Place said the efforts will be backed and overseen by national experts on diversity and equity. The brand’s racial equity assessment will review policies, processes and practices that impact guests, employees, suppliers and the community to identify potential improvements.

By the end of September, all employees will receive training to address bias, promote inclusion and prevent discrimination. The company said this will become part of the onboarding process for new employees and will become a standard part of employee training.

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