MILTON — The Milton Selectboard followed in Gov. Phil Scott’s footsteps on Monday night by signing a Declaration of Inclusion.
The declaration, which is about a page and a half long, puts in writing the town’s condemnation of racism and discrimination.
“The Town of Milton condemns all forms of racism and discrimination of any type and welcomes all persons, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age or disability and will protect these classes to the fullest extent of the law,” the declaration states.
Town Manager Don Turner said during the May 17 Selectboard meeting that writing the declaration was a team effort — all town department directors contributed.
Milton’s Declaration of Inclusion came on the heels of a similar declaration Gov. Phil Scott issued on behalf of the State of Vermont earlier this month, when he proclaimed May 9-15, 2021 as inclusion week.
The governor’s declaration condemns racism, commits Vermont to working towards equality and to growing and nurturing a diverse society.
“The fact is, if we want stronger, more economically secure communities, we need more people and more diversity in Vermont,” Scott said in a statement. “I hope this effort sends a message to anyone who wants to live and work in a safe, healthy and welcoming state.”
The declaration that was signed by the Selectboard on Monday night will be used as part of Milton's mission statement going forward, Turner said. It also summarizes what Milton has already done to promote inclusion and lists future actions.
“The Town of Milton elected officials, staff, volunteers and stakeholders have historically participated and will conduct ongoing educational opportunities highlighting the importance of inclusion within the community,” the declaration states.
Turner said these words will be turned into action this September, when elected officials and town staff will have the opportunity to participate in three two-hour training sessions with Abundant Sun, a "cultural transformation agency" that helps governments, corporations and nonprofits reform their workplaces.
Milton’s declaration reminds residents that the town established a Police Advisory Committee last fall to enhance community policing initiatives. It also states town staff will focus attention on examining employee manuals, policies and hiring practices to promote fairness and equity within town government.
“To me, it's not about the words on the paper, it's about the actions we do,” Turner said.
Milton now joins several other Vermont cities and towns, like Rutland, Waterbury, Middlebury, Brandon and Moretown in adopting its own form of the governor’s Declaration of Inclusion.
Lisa Rees, who was in attendance during Monday’s meeting as a member of the Police Advisory Committee, said though she is happy Milton is signing this declaration, she is disappointed in its tardiness.
“I'm thrilled to see the declaration, the proclamations, all of it,” Rees said. “But we missed it. Last week was Inclusion Week. [Today] is the 17th, not the 15th.”