On June 18, Kenmore marked a historic moment as the City Council proclaimed June 24-30 as Pride Week for the first time.
The council voted 6-0 on May 29 to support Pride Week and the LGBTQ community.
The idea was proposed by Deputy Mayor Nigel Herbig. Council member Milton Curtis abstained from the vote.
“As a city, we’ve recognized a lot of things…and it’s past time we take the time and do a quick resolution naming the last week of June, when the Pride Parade is going on in Seattle, as Pride Week in the city of Kenmore,” Herbig said.
Pride Week is a celebration of strides made by LGBTQ individuals all over the nation and a recognition that LGBTQ rights are human rights, according to the city.
“All LGBTQIA+ Americans are deserving of the same dignity, respect, justice and rights afforded to all citizens,” Kenmore’s proclamation notes.
The additional letters of the acronym stand for inter-sex and asexual and or allied.
The city also passed a resolution last March “reaffirming Kenmore as a safe, inclusive and welcoming city for all people.”
During public comment, Pastor Anja Helmon of Northlake Lutheran Church told council that the community “has to do more” to support people of all genders and sexual orientations. Helmon said her congregation voted to be a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) church last October and adopted a statement of inclusivity.
Churches have a reputation of not being welcoming, she said.
“When it comes to LGBTQIA issues or concerns, governments often have the same reputation,” Helmon said.
After her church reexamined and restated its values, it benefited from increased diversity and acceptance, she said.
Corina Pfeil, a mother of a transgender son, said the council’s “support via proclamation would send the message that Kenmore is a safe, welcoming, supportive and inclusive environment…and would reduce discrimination in our community and schools.”
Kenmore encourages all residents to work together to fight bullying and harassment, and teach respect for everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, faith, gender, sexual orientation or any differences that are perceived or real.
But the LGBTQ community continues to face barriers. They “experience discrimination and exclusion in our schools and communities, places of work, and in acquiring housing,” according to Kenmore’s proclamation.
“LGBTQIA+ youth are more likely to face homelessness, or enter the foster care system, and become at higher risk of escapism behaviors such as running away from home, an increased risk of alcohol and drug abuse, suicide and suicide ideation,” it states.
The Kenmore community has been generally supportive. Council member Joe Marshall said the city and country have arrived at a “new day and better day” since recognizing marriage equality and that students at Kenmore Middle School celebrated Pride by wearing rainbow colors.
“I would be very proud to support this Pride proclamation in Kenmore. It’s long overdue,” he said.
The full proclamation can be found on the city’s website.