The neighboring Vermont cities of Winooski and Burlington are working toward creating even more welcoming spaces for all residents and visitors.
Winooski raised the Pride Progress flag Monday, aiming to show the city is a welcoming place for LGBTQ+ people, as well as for members of other historically marginalized groups.
"Hate has no place in our communities," insisted Rep. Taylor Small, P/D-Winooski.
That message is fresh again after a series of incidents just across the river in Burlington.
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"It is very upsetting, and it's unacceptable at the same time," said Burlington City Councilor Ali Dieng, an Independent, describing the appearance of stickers denigrating transgender people.
The stickers have shown up recently in parks, on playgrounds, the bike path, and elsewhere, and many were scraped off by neighbors who found them hateful and offensive.
The materials appear to argue that transgender Vermonters should not have all the same rights as their neighbors when it comes to participating in community activities, such as youth sports.
The policy of the Vermont Principals' Association is that student athletes can participate on interscholastic sports teams consistent with their gender identity.
NECN chose to not show images of the anti-trans stickers in this report, to minimize further harm to city residents who felt targeted by their appearance in public places.
"Tourists come here — People from all over the world come here," Dieng observed. "But if they see members of our community targeting other members of our community, this is not a welcoming place. We want people to come. And everyone to feel safe and welcomed, so everyone can live in dignity."
Dieng asked that Burlingtonians continue speaking out against the anti-trans stickers left in public spaces and reporting them until they stop.
He added that he and fellow Burlington City Councilors Sarah Carpenter, a Democrat, and Mark Barlow, an Independent, have heard from many constituents about the stickers and are taking the issue seriously.
"We need that follow-through, so that these incidents do not escalate," said Rep. Small, who also represents a portion of Burlington in the Vermont State House.
Small, the first out transgender person elected to the Vermont Legislature, said she wants to see the U.S. Senate pass the Equality Act.
It would add gender identity and sexual orientation to the list of classes protected federally against discrimination—like how race and national origin are protected classes today.
"And make sure that we are, again, affirming the rights of LGBTQ folks when it comes to employment, when it comes to accessing healthcare, when it comes to accessing housing — all of these pieces that we need to thrive and live in our communities," Small said of the goals of the Equality Act, which has stalled in the U.S. Senate.
Meanwhile, Meredith Bay-Tyack, the director of Downtown Winooski and a mom of two, said at Monday's raising of the Pride Progress flag that she is doing her small part to create the kind of community she wants to live in — by teaching her kids to embrace diversity and inclusion.
"The more we learn about each other, the better everyone is," Bay-Tyack said.