Values-based / Identity-based Dispute Negotiation Role-Play: Springfield OutFest

TitleValues-based / Identity-based Dispute Negotiation Role-Play: Springfield OutFest
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsHarvey, K, Kovick, D, Susskind, L, Brown, J
Keywordsadvocacy, agreement, agreements, dispute, Ellis v. MacroB, interests, mediation, mediator, negotiate, negotiated agreement, negotiation, PON, Springfield Outfest

Six-person, non-scorable negotiation simulation focused on mediating values-based legal disputes, specifically disputes involving conflicting views and values regarding homosexuality and religious faith.

Full Text

This simulation focuses on a dispute between two private organizations and a city over speech rights that will or won’t be granted as part of a permit for a festival on city property. It also explores the role of attorneys representing their clients in negotiated agreements around values-based disputes.

In Springfield OutFest, Springfield Pride is a local advocacy organization that supports the city of Springfield’s sizeable lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Springfield Pride’s largest event of the year, by far, is the OutFest, an annual street festival permitted by the city of Springfield to celebrate National Coming Out Day, to and support and affirm LGBT identity. In addition to drawing large, supportive crowds, the festival also attracts members of the public who oppose the message of the festival and LGBT lifestyles in general. One group in particular, Salvation Now!, is a nationwide network of grassroots religious and social campaigners who seek to bring their religious message directly to those they consider to be living sinful lifestyles. The local Salvation Now! organizers have been a regular and increasingly visible presence at the OutFest over the past several years, including last year. Salvation Now! members arrived at the OutFest, megaphones at the ready, and began broadcasting a message that many at the festival found offensive and hateful. Springfield Pride had organized a human buffer of numerous volunteers, who were prepared to to shield the crowd from the protesters. The volunteers carried massive signs to block the signs of the protesters and blew whistles to drown out their megaphones. As tensions mounted, the police arrested several Salvation Now! members for refusing to follow police instructions and disrupting the peace. Although these criminal charges were eventually dropped, the confrontation dampened the festival atmosphere and attracted quite a bit of unfavorable media attention to the city of Springfield and the OutFest.

The simulation begins one year later. Springfield Pride has just submitted its permit application for this year’s upcoming OutFest. Fearing either an escalation of last year’s confrontation or legal liability and court challenges, the city has requested a meeting with all parties to try to agree on some parameters and rules before this year’s festival.