New Brunswick

St. Stephen crosswalk coloured with chalk in support of students' rainbow proposal

Some people in St. Stephen are using chalk to add colour to parts of the town in support of a request by the middle school's gay-straight alliance to have the municipality paint a rainbow crosswalk near the school.

Some town council members opposed to middle school's gay-straight alliance request to paint rainbow crosswalk

A growing number of supporters of a proposal by St. Stephen Middle School's gay-straight alliance for a rainbow crosswalk are responding in full colour. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

A crosswalk outside St. Stephen Middle School mysteriously gained some colour overnight Thursday — bold streaks of pink and orange in chalk.

It comes after some town councillors voiced their opposition Wednesday night to a proposal by the school's gay-straight alliance to have the municipality paint a rainbow crosswalk.

Council asked for more information before making a decision, prompting a heated debate in town and on social media.

It's unclear who used chalk to create the rainbow — the Pride symbol used around the world to show support for the LGBT community.

But Heather Donahue, the St. Stephen Business Improvement Area co-ordinator and Katelyn Rodas, a wedding event planner, decided to colour the sidewalk outside the St. Stephen Business Improvement office in support.

"If [opponents] deface this over the weekend, Monday morning I'll be back on my hands and knees," Donahue said on Friday.

"Doing it again," Rodas added.

St. Stephen Mayor Allan MacEachern says council hasn't ruled out the crosswalk entirely and will hear from the gay-straight alliance again next month. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)
Some communities across New Brunswick that have already agreed to have painted rainbow crosswalks have had to redo them because they have been repeatedly defaced.

St. Stephen Mayor Allan MacEachern hopes the divisiveness will soon end.

The gay-straight alliance has been invited to make another presentation to council in mid-November.

"I ask everyone to be respectful of each other, because that isn't who we are. We are a respectful community," said MacEachern.

"We will continue to be a respectful community, and we will move forward from this, and keep being who we are."

Reverend Leslie Hamilton says support for rainbow crosswalk is important for all St. Stephen children

4 years ago
Duration 0:48
A proposal from middle school students to install a rainbow crosswalk in St. Stephen has met with some resistance from town councillors. 0:48

But Leslie Hamilton, the minister at St. Stephen United Church, said she's concerned about the response the alliance students received and plans to address the issue from the pulpit on Sunday.

Hamilton says she has experienced upsetting comments since moving to St. Stephen with her wife last year and understands the need for public displays of inclusion.

"These children have decided that this is important, and it means that a gay child who has the most difficult time in every day of their life can have one little smile walking across that crosswalk. It's worth it," she said.

Hamilton has also offered to meet with the school's gay-straight alliance members to talk about her own experiences and to offer support.

Kendall Carson, 13, says she joined the St. Stephen Middle School's gay-straight alliance on Thursday to show support after hearing a recording of the council committee discussion. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

Kendall Carson, 13, says she joined the group after she heard a recording of the council discussion.

"I decided I wanted to do more for the LGBT community and put more support out there for them," she said, sporting a rainbow flag on her cheek Friday.

"It's mind-blowing knowing what [council's] opinion is on this whole thing," said fellow student Eve Pole. 

Pole said she thinks the rainbow crosswalk is "a great idea."

"So that this school is safe for everyone. And everyone is accepted here."

Miramichi, Woodstock, Fredericton, Moncton, Riverview, and Sackville already have rainbow crosswalks.

With files from Catherine Harrop