For immediate release
International Falls, MN – Today Borderland Pride issued the following statement:
“On April 22, Borderland Pride wrote to Mayor Bob Anderson and City Administrator Ken Anderson at the City of International Falls requesting a proclamation in support of Pride Week, from June 2 to 9. The letter we sent enclosed the text of the requested proclamation, which is standard procedure for such a request. It is the same resolution which was adopted by the Town of Fort Frances earlier this month.
“We received no response from anyone at the City. On May 14, we learned that the requested proclamation was pulled from the Council agenda at the two previous meetings by the Mayor and City Administrator. This was done with no notice to Council, meaning that councilors were unaware that any request had ever been submitted.
“At tonight’s meeting of Council – which was the last one before Pride Week – our request once again did not appear on the agenda. Councilor Harley Droba was able to have the item brought forward for consideration, but no explanation has been provided as to why the item was removed or omitted from the agenda 3 times.
“Tonight’s motion to proclaim June 2 to 9 as Pride Week passed with a vote of 4-1, with Mayor Anderson voting against the motion. We are surprised to learn of the Mayor’s position considering that the proclamation which was ultimately approved is substantively similar to that passed by council in 2018. The 2018 motion passed with unanimous support. This is documented in Council’s meeting minutes of May 21, 2018.
“We are also disappointed that steps appear to have been taken by City officials to strip language from our proclamation which normalizes and reflects the equality of LGBTQ2 people. Language was struck from the proclamation which indicates that the diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity is a positive contribution to society, that the spirit of diversity and inclusion is common to all people, that Pride is a matter for celebration, and encouraging citizens to participate in Pride events. Last year, city officials also declined to fly a rainbow flag, indicating that there was no location where they could do so.
“There is no plausible explanation for these actions. A resolution which confers anything less than whole-hearted support for the diversity of the community and the safety of everyone in it is not an instrument of Pride, but of shame.
“This is deeply stigmatizing and irresponsible toward LGBTQ2 youth in particular. Our remarks to Council in 2018 reviewed the well-established evidence on the number of LGBTQ2 youths who are homeless – where coming out has meant getting kicked out – and the staggering statistics on the likelihood of LGBTQ2 young people to self-harm or attempt to take their own life due to feelings of isolation, harassment, emotional or physical abuse. Community leaders have a civic duty to respond to these disturbing statistics with words of support, at a minimum. Borderland Pride has requested no financial or in-kind support from the City.
“We raised no objections to the 2018 proclamation, recognizing that Pride initiatives had never been attempted in International Falls in the past. But in light of the robust show of support and community participation in last year’s Pride festivities, we believe that more should be expected of the officials involved in this process. Attempts to bury our request or strip it of supportive language are simply unacceptable in 2019.
“With LGBTQ2 people under threat by hostile government policy across the United States, it is incumbent on the level of government closest to the people to show support and care for those in its charge.
“These recent events are discouraging, but we hope that positive change may flow from them. As we have said many times: Pride is powered by public participation. We encourage local residents and organizations who are allies of the LGBTQ2 community to come forward and get involved in local Pride and LGBTQ2 inclusion initiatives.
“While Borderland Pride’s International Falls events are limited this year, we look forward to the opportunity to provide more programming here and in other area communities in the future. However, none of that is possible without the commitment of volunteers and local organizations willing to stand up for their values of Pride, diversity, and inclusion. We welcome those efforts. They are necessary.
“Pride events this year will take place from May 24 to June 9. Our cross-border Pride March begins at 10:30 AM at Smokey Bear Park on Saturday, June 8, and will end with a community barbeque and concert in Fort Frances. Most of this year’s events are free of charge and open to all ages. More information is available at borderlandpride.org/events or on our Facebook page.”
Letter to Falls City Council, dated April 22, 2019
Document Showing 2018 Proclamation Compared to Requested Text