NORTH HURON – North Huron staff are preparing a report to address the recent controversy over the decision not to fly the Pride flag at township buildings, looking to change that policy to be more inclusive.
A recent request from the Huron County librarian to allow the Pride flag to be flown at the library was denied at the last council meeting. The council preferred to stick with the policy, adopted in 2010, allowing only municipal, provincial and federal flags to fly on township property.
Concerned community members sent letters to council asking for reconsideration of the policy.
Jen Elliott, a concerned parent, wrote, "I am writing to express my concern about the message the decision to not fly the pride flag in North Huron sends to the community, especially to the youth. I would like to request action for council to update the township's flag policy. I feel North Huron has an obligation to join other local councils in promoting inclusion by annually flying the Pride flag for the month of June. As a former student of FE (Madill) and a parent of children that currently attend school in Wingham, I felt disappointment and shame while reading of this news. I want to raise my children in a community that shows support for marginalized groups by promoting inclusion. Flying the Pride flag is a simple way to do this.”
Erin Gaunt said, “I am writing this letter as a concerned parent and citizen who has recently been contacted by a fellow parent regarding an issue she is very passionate about; flying the Pride flag. After reading an article in the newspaper, she learned that North Huron would not be flying the Pride flag to support our community members who identify as members of the LGBTQ2S community.
“I am concerned about the negative message being sent to our young people and citizens in general, but especially to those who identify as members of this already marginalized group. In addition, not flying the Pride flag might seem like these citizens are excluded as valued members of the community. I would like to request that an amendment to the current flag policy be addressed at the upcoming council meeting being held June 7, 2021."
Councillor Chris Palmer voiced his displeasure to flying any other flag other than the national, provincial, and municipal flags, sticking to his guns on not flying the Pride flag, this time referring to the possibility of having to fly a Hot Wheels flag, opening floodgates to any flag being flown if they let the Pride flag fly in North Huron.
Coun. Paul Heffer didn't say why but also voted against the motion. Still, the two were defeated in a 5 – 2 vote to reconsider the flag policy.
Reeve Bernie Bailey expressed his displeasure with the reaction to a report in the local newspapers. He vowed a better representation for the LGBTQ community in North Huron.
The township website will now show its support for the LGBTQ community while the flag policy is updated.
Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times