Regarding the June 3 article “Topsham urged to make its own pride crosswalk,” I initially wanted to respond to Topsham Assistant Town Manager Mark Waltz’s quoted responses, which were dismissive and lacked consideration of the benefits that pride crosswalks provide to communities. I wrote a letter to our Board of Selectmen, including an example of how the town altered another crosswalk for safety reasons by using bright colors (at Head of Tide Park) to counter Mr. Waltz’s claim that “due to all the color, it makes it harder to notice a pedestrian in it.”

Since sending that letter, I’ve received an encouraging response from one member of the board, which is promising. Of course, there’s opposition to the pride crosswalk idea from those who are concerned about their tax dollars or think that suddenly Topsham is becoming “like Portland.”

LGBTQ+ people have lived, worked, volunteered, raised families and owned businesses in Topsham for decades, and creating a pride crosswalk would be a fantastic demonstration of inclusivity. The letter I wrote to the Topsham Board of Selectmen requested that the town seriously consider a pride crosswalk as a more permanent display of community recognition and celebration of our diversity.

According to the 2019 results from the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey, 13.6% of Maine high school students identify as LGBTQ+. Those youth are experiencing more violence and discrimination AND they receive less support from adults in their communities overall. This is one of many reasons why it is important to show support for LGBTQ+ people so that youth see community support and embracing of diversity – to feel safe, secure and know that they matter. This literally is a public safety issue for LGBTQ+ youth.

A big thank you to Liz Armstrong for bringing the initial request to the town!

Charlene Swift