To the Editor,

As is customary throughout the world, the month of June is known as Pride month. This is a time when persons of the LGBTQ+ community come together to celebrate their strength, courage and unity within our community.  Like other repressed groups, the LGBTQ+ community has experienced social, employment and political discrimination and violence.  In fact, transgender and nonconforming persons are disproportionately represented as victims of violent crimes, the majority of whom are persons of color.  Our LGBTQ+ youth are also at serious risk of discrimination and violence.  In fact, four out of five LGBTQ students report experiencing harassment frequently in school based on their appearance or perceived sexual orientation.  And we here in MBTS are a community that has experienced hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community in the past.  As the founder and President of North Shore Pride, Inc. a nonprofit organization with a mission of education and advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community, and a resident of MBTS, I requested to the Select Board last night to again fly the Pride flag in the town of MBTS for the month of June on the town common.  Just prior to my agenda item the Select Board reviewed “5. Select Boards Policies- Continued discussion”, discussing the policy on flying flags in MBTS.  Thank you to Mr. Federspiel, Town Manager, for clarifying for the Board and the record last night, that the flagpole located in front of town hall that is surrounded by the Veteran Honor Roll is in fact a town flagpole, financed in part, by Town funds.  I informed the Select Board that the towns of Marblehead, Peabody, Danvers, Beverly, Salem, Gloucester, Hamilton and Wenham plan to fly the Pride Flag in June at their town and city halls. The Select Board’s response was, “We are not those towns or cities”.  I am hopeful, as a member and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, that MBTS receives that same warm embrace from our Town leadership as those other towns and cities have done. Citing the need to review the recent Supreme Court decision yesterday of Shurtleff v. City of Boston, No. 20-1800, made yesterday, which declared that the City of Boston had violated the First Amendment when it refused to let a private group raise a Christian flag in front of its City Hall, the Select Board deferred their decision to fly the Pride flag in MBTS until the next Select Board meeting on May 16.  I welcome you to show your Town Pride and join me, and other Allies, at the next Select Board Zoom meeting on May 16 at 6:30 p.m.  Happy North Shore Pride! 

Hope Watt-Bucci (She/Her/Hers)

Manchester