When will people get that you don't have to look the same to be family? A Regal movie theater in Stockton, Calif., denied Reuben Lee and his adopted 17-year-old son entrance because the manager didn't believe the two were related.
Reuben, a pastor in the Northern California city, went with his son Reuben Jr., the church's deacon and five other teens to watch "XXX: Return of Xander Cage," a PG-13 movie. That's two guardians and six teens total.
"I was the only Caucasian in the group,” Lee told Fox 40 News.
Everyone else was allowed in, but before the dad and his son could enter, a manager stopped them. Reuben explained that he was Reuben Jr.'s father and guardian, but the manager wouldn't budge.
"He sort of smirked and said, ‘Well, like I said, parent, grandparent, legal guardian, you need to call one of them and have them come over here if you want to get in,’” Reuben said.
Oh, yeah, it gets worse.
Reuben said he got a refund for the tickets but their group was escorted off the property by an armed guard.
There is no valid reason for this to have happened. And since when were 17-year-olds denied entrance to PG-13 movies? Regal Cinema's online policies says managers and ushers could check for identification if a guest appears to be under the age of 17 (18 at some theaters) for rated "R" movies. They will not allow anyone under 18 to watch movies rated NC-17. But there is no mention of PG-13 rules.
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Reuben told Fox 40 News that having grown up in the south, he is all too familiar with racism, but what his family had to deal with on Sunday was heartbreaking.
They were so outraged that mom Nichole Lee took to Facebook to express her anger.
"Skin color does NOT define family!!!!!" Nichole wrote. In the comments, she later said they received an apology from the regional manager. But she wants a lot more than that. She wants a public apology for being shamed in public. She also wants policy changes, sensitivity training and the resignation of the manager.
Many in the comments shared their own struggles as members of mixed-race families.
"I go through this with my biological children because they are darker complected," one mom wrote. "Most people think they're adopted, and even had the police called on me by an AA woman saying I kidnapped my child from someone, because 'there is no way this white lady is his mother.'"
Regal Cinemas has not yet publicly commented on this instance at the time of publication.