The Arlington Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and the Arlington, MA Lgbtqia+ Rainbow Commission are sad to report that another hate incident has occurred in Arlington. This is part of an unfortunate trend of increasing incidents in the town over the past few years.
On May 2, two large pieces of anti-gay graffiti were found at Arlington High School (AHS) on an exterior wall and in the back parking lot, and a swastika was discovered on a nearby trash can. The Arlington Police Department (APD) was notified promptly and is working with Arlington Public Schools (APS) to investigate. The AHRC and Rainbow Commission reached out to the schools to offer our resources in responding to this incident.
We were heartened to hear from AHS Principal Janger that the student government, club leaders, and captains today joined to express their solidarity with their classmates. The school has had an increasing number of student- and faculty-led events, workshops, and activities exploring and promoting inclusion and equality. He tells us that the slow drip of a few people who are seeking attention through disruption is opposed by the trend toward an increasingly diverse and inclusive community at the high school. He invites us to swing by and take a look at the student art response visible on the front of the school.
This evening, members of the AHRC, Rainbow Commission, and Mystic LGBTQ+ Youth Support Network (Queer Mystic) will be attending a public gathering at Town Hall at 7:30 pm as Town Meeting convenes. We will display rainbow flags and Hate Has No Home Here signs and meet each other to build community across differences. Please join us.
We reaffirm our community’s commitment to embracing diversity and eliminating prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, discrimination, and intimidation. This hate incident does not reflect the values of our Town, the groups cosigned here, or the vast majority of Arlington residents. We are in solidarity with the students, faculty, staff, and their families as they process the emotional impact and work on the school community’s response. We particularly extend our support at this time to the LGBTQIA+ and Jewish community at AHS and in our town.
APD and the diversity- and inclusion-focused Commissions and groups are committed to creating an atmosphere where everyone in Arlington feels safe and supported. All of us function best when living without fear of violence, discrimination, exclusion, or humiliation. Our children, families, businesses, and the community as a whole are hurt by hateful acts against anyone based on race, color, religious views, national origin, sex, gender identity, citizenship, age, ancestry, family/marital status, sexual orientation, disability, source of income, or military status.
We strongly support the constitutional rights of free expression, freedom from intimidation, and equal protection for all people. Anonymous hate incidents aim to prevent members of our diverse population from enjoying full participation in civic life. The AHRC and the Rainbow Commission strongly endorse APD’s efforts on restorative justice and hope there will be an opportunity for the vandals to sit in dialogue with those affected to foster healing. We also support efforts by members of the faith community and local neighborhood groups who are facilitating respectful and productive conversation around difference through shared meals and other events.
APD has demonstrated dedication to the safety and security of all people, and our town services and agencies are committed to fostering not only a tolerant spirit, but an educated and enlightened one as well. APD and the AHRC have a long history of working closely with each other to investigate and resolve hate incidents, and now the Rainbow Commission is joining in that work by helping build community within the LGBTQIA+ population and strengthening ties with the greater community. We will collaboratively pursue healing and understanding while promising to seek out, identify, and hold responsible those who commit these harmful acts.
In light of this hate incident, we encourage you to take a moment in the coming week to commit an act of practical support for the targeted communities, such as attending an educational event, studying the history of oppressions, or supporting an organization that sustains marginalized communities.
We also ask for your help in ensuring that all individuals who live, attend school, work, visit, shop, or receive services in Arlington feel welcome and protected here. If you know of an act of discrimination, intimidation, or other hate incident, please report it to APD (781-643-1212) and/or AHRC (781-316-3250, firstname.lastname@example.org). The Massachusetts Attorney General’s office has also set up a hotline for reporting bias-motivated harassment or threats (1-800-994-3228).
The AHRC educates the Arlington community through programs that increase mutual respect, works with Town government, schools, and other Town commissions and boards to promote diversity, responds to complaints by Town residents who believe that their human rights have been violated, and initiates investigations where unlawful discrimination may have occurred. The next meeting will be May 29 at 8 pm in the ground floor gallery of the Jefferson Cutter House, 611 Mass. Ave. All meetings are open to the public.
The Rainbow Commission promotes equality-affirming policies regarding the full spectrum of sexual orientations and gender identities, and brings greater visibility and empowerment to the LGBTQIA+ population through education, advocacy, and collaboration with other Town agencies, schools, and community groups. The next meeting is May 17 at 6:30 pm in the Board of Health conference room at the Senior Center, 27 Maple St. All meetings are open to the public.
You can reach the Rainbow Commission at email@example.com and follow on Twitter (twitter.com/ArlingtonMAlgbt).
Cosigned by: Dan Dann, Chair of the Board of Selectmen
Joseph Curro, Board of Selectmen
Adam Chapdelaine, Town Manager
Kirsi Allison-Ampe, Chair of the Arlington School Committee
Dr. Kathleen Bodie, Superintendent of Schools
Dr. Matthew Janger, Principal of Arlington High School
Margaret Credle Thomas, Arlington METCO Director
Andrea Razi, Social Worker at Arlington High School
Superintendent’s Diversity Advisory Committee
Arlington Police Department
Vision 2020 Diversity Task Group
Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Observance Committee of Arlington
Equal Opportunity Advisory Committee
Robbins Library Poet Laureate Committee
Christine Bongiorno, Director of Health and Human Services
Natasha Waden, Director of Public Health
Jeff Chunglo, Director of Veterans Services
Susan Carp, Director of the Council on Aging
Colleen Leger, Director of the Arlington Youth Counseling Center
Karen Koretsky, Director of the Arlington Youth Health and Safety Coalition
Housing Corporation of Arlington
Mystic LGBTQ+ Youth Support Network Mystic Valley
NAACP Park Avenue Congregational Church (UCC)
Rabbi Howard Jaffe, Temple Isaiah, Lexington
Rabbi Jill Perlman, Temple Isaiah, Lexington
Rabbi Amy Hertz, Temple Isaiah, Lexington
Cantor Lisa Doob, Temple Isaiah
Arlington Rev. Cynthia Good, Calvary Methodist Church First Parish Unitarian Universalist, Arlington