An inclusive and welcoming state is one where all citizens can enjoy safe, happy, and productive lives, and where tourists from all over are eager to visit. As individuals and as a state, we must all work to humbly recognize our biases, understand how these biases inform our decision making, and use that knowledge to reduce, if not eliminate, the presence of negative bias in our decision making. To that end, my administration would pursue the following:
Use the Vermont State Police and Department of Tourism & Marketing as models for other government agencies. These agencies have been on the forefront of addressing implicit bias and strengthening inclusive and equitable institutional practices.
The Vermont State Police are a national leader in employing Fair and Impartial Policing. This includes robust training on implicit bias and ongoing professional development throughout the command structure of the agency. I commend them for their work.
Tourism & Marketing has widened their scope to include attracting historically overlooked visitors to Vermont. For example, the creation of the Vermont African American Heritage Trail has attracted visitors of color and those interested in cultural tourism, and the Inclusive Vermont initiative has attracted visitors with disabilities. These two great efforts brand Vermont as the most welcoming state, and not to mention has expanded our economic pie.
We need to build on these successes and encourage the application of inclusive and equitable business/institutional practices throughout state and municipal governments.
Help our schools and children succeed in a diverse world. Schools play a central role in preparing the next generation for success in an increasingly diverse world. Schools provide the meeting place for students, teachers and parents to learn about, respect, and ultimately celebrate our multicultural identities. To encourage and support our students, we should be providing training for teachers and administrators, introducing them to the latest, most effective strategies for creating inclusive classrooms while at the same time countering the negative implicit biases that lead to differential treatment of students based on race, national origin, developmental abilities, or socio-economic status. At the same time, standards-based curricula statewide must acknowledge our cultural diversity and strive to bring the world in its entirety to our students in the classroom.
Condemn hate symbols and hate speech. Symbols of hate are not welcome in our state. Quite simply, they are bad for our communities, our families, and for business. The state must do what it can to discourage hate symbols and hate speech, and reaffirm that all people should feel welcome and respected in Vermont. This includes better education about the actual meaning behind hate symbols, and working closely with organizations like the VT Human Relations Commission and the Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity on strategies to combat hate symbols and hate speech in our state. And relatedly, we must ensure educational personnel understand and enforce the letter and the spirit of existing anti-bullying, anti-harassment, and anti-hazing laws to end hate in schools.
Improve enforcement of Vermont fair housing and anti-discrimination laws. The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. Only with enhanced, effective enforcement of this law can we begin to seriously address institutional racism in the housing sector. This involves auditing the current Fair Housing Act enforcement measures and soliciting feedback and input from those who have filed complaints and sought recourse in the past.