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Push back against intolerance in East Lyme

There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that East Lyme is failing when it comes to inclusion and respect for all of our residents. Last month, a high schooler was arrested for writing a racial slur on the car of one of his peers.  As reported by The Day, our Board of Education received a letter which one board member described as anti-Semitic and racist.

In our middle school last week, students were tearing down gay pride flags that their peers in the Gay Straight Alliance had put up to celebrate Pride Month. The administration has announced that they are removing all such flags in order to "clean up for the summer," which is a cowardly dodge. Intolerant students have just learned that if they take down a few flags, the school system will finish the job for them and take down the rest. Instead, the administration should be supporting LGBTQ+ students against their intolerant peers and sending the exact opposite message: Intolerance will not win the day.

When I posted about one of these events on Nextdoor (a social media platform) a member of our library Board of Trustees replied "Liberal democrap snowflakes here. Wake up idiots."  Embracing all members of our community is not a liberal or a conservative issue. Inclusiveness is foundational to our nation. Our students tout it every morning with the pledge of allegiance: "liberty and justice for all."

America gets its strength from its diversity. In World War 2, the most decorated combat unit consisted of Nisei soldiers (descendants of Japanese immigrants). While they fought, their innocent family members were placed in internment camps due to forces of bigotry and fear run amok in the U. S. government. History never looks back favorably on such forces. It is time for East Lyme leadership to stand up and actively push back against those who are intolerant.

Brendan M. Cunningham, PhD
East Lyme



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