More Vermont communities adopt ‘Declaration of Inclusion’

Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 5:04 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 8, 2023 at 6:05 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - As of Town Meeting Day, 100 Vermont cities and towns have adopted a “Declaration of Inclusion.” Now, more than 60% of Vermonters live in a town or city that’s adopted one.

Following adoption, each town is encouraged to take action to uphold the declaration by doing things like forming equity and inclusion committees, conducting research and brainstorming creative ways to reach out to marginalized groups.

The declaration of inclusion initiative started in October 2020 as a way to make Vermont a national leader in promoting diversity.

“This stuff is no cost. It’s a matter of attitude. It’s a matter of intent. We felt very, very good about trying to make Vermont the most inclusive state in the country. And in fact, we may well have achieved that. I don’t know of any other state that in fact has gone as far as we have in getting every municipality, every town to say we welcome people of all races, ethnicities, etc. to our communities,” said J. Alvin Wakefield, one of the founders of the Vermont Declaration on Inclusion.

The towns of Hubbardton and Highgate recently rescinded their declarations, and the founders of the declaration say the town of Georgia chose not to adopt one. In a statement, Georgia Town Administrator Cheryl Letourneau said those on the board have: “Taken an oath to uphold the United States Constitution and the Constitution of Vermont. Both of these documents enshrine the very values of this proposed resolution... We believe strongly that ALL people are created equal and have certain inalienable rights from their creator, these include Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

In 2021, Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, issued a proclamation designating the second week of May as Inclusion Week in Vermont.