Daily Buzz | Pride Decorations Spark Controversy
And DEI Subcommittee meets this evening
Good morning, Neighbor!
I have some real-live at-home reporting for you today.
Controversy Over Celebratory Decorations
As Pride celebrations begin all over the state, country, and world, some Burlington residents got together to kick off the festivities here at home by installing some decorations in the center of town. However, they were promptly asked to move, alter, or take down some of the décor.
Members of the Pride Committee placed some small flags and other items in the Sculpture Park on Sunday, as well as on and around the sculpture of Havoc, the dog that keeps watch over the Common. By Monday morning, though, the Select Board had received complaints from one or more community members and the group was asked to modify the decorations around Havoc.
According to the Select Board, there are clear guidelines that don’t allow placement of flags or signs on the Common, and these were requested to be moved elsewhere. Additionally, the large fabric flag, which was initially draped over Havoc, was asked to be made into a bandana, in keeping with other decorations that have been applied for past events.
Members of the Pride Committee and LGBTQ+ community at large expressed being disheartened by the Town’s request. In a statement from the Pride Committee, members Barbara Martinez and Kerry Moe said, “The Pride Committee sought and received approval to decorate the Sculpture Park from the Sculpture Park Committee, whose representative said they’d never needed approval to decorate the dog for any other event. Havoc was decorated lovingly by members of the Pride Committee and other community members who were happy to contribute to such an inclusive display. It was a wonderful experience to have the opportunity to make this a more welcoming community, and we received such lovely feedback from residents, especially on behalf of the LGBTQ+ youth who often feel ostracized. The only sign was a lawn sign which says, ‘Everyone is Welcome Here In Burlington.’ Nothing stands more in opposition of the notion of an inclusive Burlington than the removal of a small sign affirming it - all to appease a person offended by a colorful and joyous expression of community.”
Barbara L’Heureux, Chair of the Sculpture Park Committee, said the Committee was totally on board with having decorations up for Pride. “The Sculpture Park Committee is in full support of the LGBTQ+ community, and we want to celebrate their diversity. We want to see the decorations up,” she said. “The Town of Burlington is taking incremental steps toward being more inclusive, but we still have a long way to go.”
When contacted for comment, Chair of the Select Board, Nick Priest, also affirmed the Town’s commitment to supporting people in the LGBTQ+ community: “The Select Board absolutely supports our LGBTQ+ community. The approval process was not followed which is what prompted the ask to remove the signage from the Common. We will continue to identify ways where we can become more inclusive and let folks know that Burlington is a place anyone can call home.”
Today in Burlington
6:00 PM - Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Subcommittee meets to discuss a date (or dates?) for the DEIC + Select Board Leaders program and the agenda for a meeting with key Town executive leaders. (Join via Webex)
6:30 PM - Zoning Bylaw Review Committee meets to discuss “recodification” (I’m interested to see what that means?) and some future amendments around signage, accessory structures, and housing (kinda broad 🤣). (Join via Zoom)