Select Board Member Alvarado’s Statement

Select Board Member Vanessa Alvarado

I struggled with what to say tonight. You see, when I got home today, I had to explain to my 8-year-old daughter, what the term faggot meant. And the reason I had to do that is that she’s entering an age of social awareness. And I want her to know that if she hears this term, that it’s a hurtful word, meant to make someone feel bad and less than. I want my children to be allies of marginalized groups and that means making them aware of the harsh realities that exist not just in the world, but right here in our sleepy little community.

We’ve had almost 2 dozen hateful incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti in our town buildings as well as in our schools. Now, the LGBTQ community has been specifically targeted. I’m no longer saddened or dismayed. I’m not upset or troubled. I’m not sure why this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. But right now? Now I’m just pissed.

I’ve heard the theory that is a joke, a prank, that we’re being too sensitive. I reject this premise. No one should be expected to tolerate bigotry. If that has become the norm, it’s something we all need to change.

I’ve heard a lot about the schools needing to take charge of this. But this is not a school problem, this is a community problem.

Decency and human kindness aren’t taught in school. They’re taught at home. The same way hatred and bigotry are taught at home. These incidents aren’t accidents. This behavior is learned. And I worry that if we don’t take a good look at ourselves in the mirror and think about what we say at home and how we treat others, that we may be one of those small towns that ends up making the national news for the worst possible reason.

We are the adults in the room. It is incumbent upon us to change the direction we are headed in. I have faith we can do just that.

For the sake of our children, our neighbors, and ourselves, take the time to talk to your kids about differences. Talk about how you’re different from your neighbors and how it would hurt you if they judged you or thought less of you because of those differences. Tell them they don’t have to agree with the differences. They don’t have to like the differences, but they do have to respect them. Because if you don’t have these conversations with your children, you may not like what they learn elsewhere.

Kindness costs us nothing and yet is priceless. To every member of this community, I ask, be kind. Teach kindness and be the change our community needs.

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