The school year is up and running, and for many of the youth in and out of my office, it seems to be off to a good start. Sadly, however, there are some concerning trends. Beginning at the end of the school year, and continuing into this school year, a concerning number of teens have shared that they are hearing a noticeable increase in the number of slurs directed at LGBT youth. Even more distressing, the straight peers and friends who hear these slurs are afraid to say anything to support them because they fear they, too, will be targeted.
This is not a school problem. That was made very clear last June. This is a parent problem. Our schools have been told not to take the lead in teaching about acceptance and diversity, as this is a parental responsibility. Unfortunately, this also seems to have emboldened some of our youth to target their gay, lesbian, and transgender peers with slurs like “fag or faggot” and, horrifyingly, with calls to “go kill” themselves. Words that had become rare now surge in our hallways, sidewalks, parks and playing fields.
Parents have the right to teach their children the values they, as a family, embrace. However, does this mean giving your children the right to impose your family values on others in ways that are harmful? Let me be clear: when a tween or teen calls an LGBT peer a derogatory slur, they increase the suicide risks that the person faces.
Lack of community acceptance doesn’t make someone not be gay or trans, it simply (and tragically) makes them feel isolated and alienated. This sense of isolation and rejection by family, peers and community leads LGBT youth to have suicide attempts at four times the rate of teens overall.
So, I ask you to step up as parents. As you teach your children about your family beliefs and values related to gender, identity and sexuality, also teach them to treat others with, if not kindness, at least with neutrality.
I am not overstating the case when I say lives are at stake. Tolerance, kindness and acceptance of differences save lives.
An accident waiting to happen
It is good to see the new traffic project at the center of town coming to an end but, unfortunately, too many people are still confused by the turn lanes.
In the past few days, while I was traveling east on Route 20 through the intersection with Route 202 (Salmon Brook St.), I was cut off on two occasions by motorists who were in the left turn lane on Route 20, which is required to turn north onto Route 202. Instead, these drivers went straight through the intersection, continuing east on Route 20. On each occasion, I narrowly avoided an accident as these drivers darted in front of me. Additional signage might help. A better solution may be to have a traffic officer posted at this intersection. My guess is that the revenue generated by just one day’s worth of traffic tickets could be put to good use.
Appreciation for Granby’s first responders
Congratulations to the five Granby police officers who were recognized for their service at the Sept. 6 awards ceremony. We observed the dedication of Sgt. Joseph and Officer Abalan firsthand this summer when they responded to several calls regarding an intoxicated person who had been stumbling along the busy road, ending up on our front lawn. We were impressed by their speedy response and, more importantly,
by the respect and professionalism with which they treated the person who became physically violent despite their best efforts at de-escalation.
Congratulations also are due to the members of the Granby Ambulance team who were called to the scene. Their focus and compassion facilitated a resolution to the situation while protecting the dignity
and safety of the combative individual. We are fortunate to have these teams protecting our town.
Ruth van Wijk
Bad incentives and the Forward Party solution
In this divisive era, the American people have lost faith that our government can make meaningful change. They aren’t wrong. We’ve crammed a diverse, beautiful mosaic of national ideas and innovations into two political parties that force ideological purity and hyper-partisanship. Wedging our beautiful American experiment into two extremist camps just might ruin the future of our country.
The problem is in the incentives. The truth is this: winning elections is not linked to finding solutions. Congress’ approval rating is at just 21 percent, yet over 90 percent of incumbents win reelection. Why is that? Well, 88 percent of seats in congress are noncompetitive: either one party or the other wins—Every. Single. Time. So, if you’re a congressman, all you must do is appeal to the 10 percent of people who show up to your partisan primary. Keep the extreme wing of your party satisfied, and you’re safe. Frustrate them? You’re gone.
We are lucky here in Granby that both major parties work pleasantly together, but not always. Elected officials still feel the responsibility to not “stray” from their respective town committee’s bidding. Unaffiliated voters (more than half of Connecticut’s registered voters are Unaffiliated) are not just unaffiliated, we are disenfranchised; No town committees and no voting in primaries!
So, then it’s no surprise that congress is becoming increasingly divided.
The Forward Party is launching a brand-new movement of American citizens who believe enough is enough. It’s time to fix broken incentives, change the conversation and allow that beautiful mosaic of American ideas to flourish. The Forward Party seeks to change the incentives through election reforms like ranked-choice voting and open primaries to allow more than just two parties to succeed.
More than that, the Forward Party is creating a community for those citizens who believe that grace and tolerance are cornerstones of a functioning democracy. We must create a culture that curates a diverse array of ideas to solve problems. The Forward Party is doing just that.
So, join me to help build the Forward Party in Connecticut into a party that isn’t beholden to either political extreme and encourages solutions over politics. The road ahead is not easy or quick, but if you love the Great American Experiment as much as I do, nothing, including the power-holding major parties, can stop our progress to build a bottom’s up, solutions-focused community of thinkers and doers. Join me at ctforwardparty.com/join
Not left. Not right. Forward!
Toby Proctor, State Co-lead, Connecticut Forward Party
VOTE on November 7
The Nov. 7 election includes no candidates for state or national offices. Given our many priorities, one might skip this election.
The choice not to vote, however, may impact Granby’s public schools.
One of our community’s achievements is our commitment to our children’s education. Over time, our community has educated thousands of children. Our work has spanned generations and our commitment to public education is a source of local pride.
The education of our children is the result of investments made in our schools—investments made through local taxes. Granby’s schools are among the best in Connecticut, and it is our commitment, our investment, that has made a profound difference in the quality of many lives. People outside of Granby recognize this and seek to live in Granby because of that commitment.
During the past year, there’s been a small, disruptive group of residents who have aggressively questioned our public-school leaders—our superintendents, our principals and our board of education have all been subject to their attacks. While the members of this group appear to be loosely affiliated, based upon the issues they advance, the language they use, and their personal affiliations, they are influenced by and draw upon organizations outside of Granby.
These outside organizations are political, partisan and well financed. They operate with political strategies and outcomes in mind. With names that evoke patriotism, the organizations are adept at connecting with local adherents and, via these proxies, foment grievances about a predictable set of issues. They seek to politicize our public education system.
Whether propagating fears about “grooming” or “indoctrination”, opposing curricula that broadens knowledge of American history, or advancing book bans in libraries—the outside organizations (and their proxies) have the same objectives—to sow division within communities, diminish trust between the community and its publicly funded schools, and ultimately—their long game—to affect public support for the financing of our public schools.
Generating fear, seeking national media attention, demanding “rights”—the local individuals have required our school leaders to shift scarce resources to address their issues.
Therein is the crux of what matters in this year’s election. Our community is vexed by a small group of individuals agitating our public schools. In the face of this, there are choices in this year’s school board election.
With these choices in mind, consider these questions.
Are my local public schools important to me?
If yes, are there candidates (or is there a party) that strongly aligns with my children’s educational interests and that will defend our public schools?
Elections matter. Balance the Board.
Granby Center Issues
The Granby Board of Selectmen recently appointed a center study committee to assess the center and its functionality, but the committee’s recommendations are not yet available.
Granby Center is undergoing extensive road construction. We have been under siege with the State’s reconstruction of roads which we think has been badly managed. Our town’s citizens and our local police force have been doing their best to control and direct traffic.
I would suggest that there are some issues the committee should consider.
Hungary Road has been a well-traveled road to the north especially prior to the road amendments. It has many speeders and traffic to Ahren’s Park. Entering or exiting Hungary Rd has always been difficult. Now there are two lanes to cross to enter Route 20 going west or to reach Route 10, making it even more precarious. Large and small trucks, autos, and SUV drivers on Route 20 block the intersection, ignoring the “don’t block the intersection” sign.
Furthermore, what is the justification for keeping such a narrow road open, without room to widen? With new lanes to the north, west and east established, why not close it up altogether? Alternate access to Hungary Road is Canal Road.
Another major concern is the house at the intersection of Hungary Road and Route 20. It is apparently for sale (residential/commercial). First, the house is an eyesore right in the middle of town when we’re supposedly cleaning up our act. The tall grass of the un-mowed lawn forces pulling into Rte.. 20 to have a sight line.
Abigail Kenyon and Joel Skilton in the community development office were responsive to the tall grass issue and Joel contacted the owner who has since mowed the grass on the Route 20 side. The stockade fence was an accident waiting to happen because it was in disrepair and could have fallen onto the road and caused an accident. That was addressed by Kenyon and Skilton as well.
Skilton said that although the owners live in Massachusetts and the house looks abandoned, it cannot be called a “hazardous nuisance” as its doors and windows are all intact and locked.
We hope these issues will be considered by the proposed Granby Center Study Committee.
Susan Patricelli Regan
Looking to the upcoming local election and the contest for seats on the BOE, I thought that it might be helpful if I were to offer some perspective from my years as a BOE member. I realize that much has changed since the years that I served on the board (1981 to 2013) but much has not.
We ran the gamut from non-contested to multiple candidate elections and survived!
We were mindful of the state law demanding minority representation, and as a board actually went a bit further. Seats were filled by representatives from both parties. I served under and enthusiastically supported board chairs often endorsed without party consideration!
From day one as a board, we were able to put party labels and personal agendas aside and deal with the business at hand—namely, student success while responding to our tax- payers (both for and against spending more for education), parents, students, teachers, superintendent and support staff.
A good board member should find the commitment demanding both in terms of time and creativity. The qualities of the person who gets your vote should be: Willing to listen to and sympathize with a broad constituency, often with differing objectives. Have a strong moral compass. Be willing to promote and listen to new ideas. Lobby with decision makers at all levels. Admit mistakes. Be willing to change one’s mind. Consider supporting majority board decisions even if you do not completely agree with them.
In short, support whoever you consider to be the best candidate. That person will be a Granby neighbor who is dedicated to student success.