A bench or picnic table doesn't measure up to a Rainbow Crosswalk, according to a local advocacy group.
Violence Prevention St. Anthony recently proposed the town of St. Anthony paint a Rainbow Crosswalk at the St. Anthony and Area Boys and Girls Club. The organization would provide the paint and wanted the crosswalk to show support for the LGBTQ+ community.
But at its public meeting on May 14, St. Anthony council voted unanimously to approve either a Rainbow bench or picnic table instead.
“Council felt due to our climatic conditions and the longevity of crosswalks on our pavement, we wanted something that would be visible for possibly 365 days a year,” St. Anthony Mayor Desmond McDonald told the Northern Pen. “As most people are aware, the paint doesn’t stay on our streets very long; you might get a month out of our paint.”
Council believed the paint would last longer on a bench or picnic table, making this a better way to promote and show support year round.
It would also, therefore, save on costs.
McDonald added the town backed the measure to show support for the LGBTQ+ community and to ensure everyone within the town felt accepted, no matter who they are or their sexual orientation.
However, Violence Prevention St. Anthony was disappointed by council’s decision, finding a bench or picnic table an unsuitable substitute.
“The crosswalk is a symbol to the LGBTQ+ community; we’re saying, ‘we accept you and it’s safe for you to walk on this crosswalk,’” Violence Prevention St. Anthony co-chair Belinda Dredge told The Northern Pen.
The group also did not believe a bench or picnic table would be as visible to the community.
She says they informed council they would donate the paint, so it would come at no additional expense to the town.
By telling them to do something different, she felt council was, essentially, making the decision, for them, of what to do with their own money.
Dredge did not understand why that mattered to council.
“We want to know what’s the real reason,” she said.
When they spoke to The Northern Pen on May 22, Violence Prevention St. Anthony had not yet decided whether to accept the painting of a bench or picnic table.
Dredge said they had yet to receive an official response from the town. Once they did, they would discuss the matter at their next board meeting.
Dredge did appreciate that the town signed a proclamation on May 17 to recognize the date as International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
She believed it was a step in the right direction and that she was looking forward to working with the town further to show support for the LGBTQ+ community.