Rainbow crosswalk rejected again in Springdale

The town council in Springdale is standing by its decision not to paint a rainbow crosswalk.

Town sticks to its original decision, worries about 'setting precedent'

Springdale council and Mayor Dave Edison issued a release on Monday that said the town would not be painting a rainbow crosswalk. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Springdale's town council is standing by its decision not to paint a rainbow crosswalk.

In a statement on Monday, council said a rainbow-coloured pride crosswalk would not be painted near the Newfoundland town's only high school, despite a request from students at Indian River High School's Gender-Sexuality Alliance.​

[No one] on our council [is] against inclusion or acceptance of any individual's sexual orientation.- Springdale Mayor Dave Edison

Mayor Dave Edison said in the release that the decision does not mean the town doesn't support all residents.

"The Town of Springdale supports its residents no matter their age, gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs or sexual orientation," he said.

Edison said the town could have done a better job communicating its initial decision on April 9 to reject the crosswalk.

"Under no circumstance is anyone on our council against inclusion or acceptance of any individual's sexual orientation, or the way in which they choose to live," he said. "We sincerely apologize for not doing a better job explaining our rationale which triggered extensive media coverage and criticism of the town."

He said the decision to deny the request for a crosswalk was "on account of the precedent we felt would be created."

Earlier this month, Edison said town council did not want to use public money to promote particular causes.

Other options to show support

After the initial crosswalk refusal, students attended council on April 23 to plead their case.

These students in Springdale were hoping council would approve their request for a crosswalk. (Martin Jones/CBC)

Edison said the town plans to work with the Gender-Sexuality Alliance on different ways to promote inclusion.

"We are working to find another way to show our support for [the] important work the Gender-Sexuality Alliance is doing in our community and at Indian River High School."

He said some suggestions so far have included putting a rainbow picnic table on school grounds, and flying the pride flag at town hall during pride week.

Students from Indian River High School's Gender-Sexuality Alliance spoke to their town council last week. Representatives from the group said Monday that students wanted to wait and think further before commenting on the town's decision. (Martin Jones/CBC)

Edison declined requests for an interview on Monday.

Finding positivity

Ryan Reid, a LGBT activist and a former student at Indian River High School, said he was disappointed the town council stood firm on its rejection of a rainbow crosswalk, but he's finding some reasons for optimism.

"The town does seem to want to do some other work towards inclusion," he said.

"I don't know what the difference is between the crosswalk and the flag and the rainbow picnic table. I can't speak to that, but you know, when we're fighting for inclusion every little tiny step is something to grab on to and hope for the best."

Ryan Reid is a gay man living in Springdale. He said he believes his town council was surprised at reaction it received when it first denied a rainbow-coloured pride crosswalk. (Martin Jones/CBC)

Reid says the mood in the town has "actually been pretty good," and he's surprised by the support that he and other LGBT people in Springdale are seeing.

"People who I might easily have painted as the religious conservatives, who have said to me, keep fighting for your rights and we're behind you," he said.

"All of this, the negativity, the positivity, the heightened emotions; it's all been worth it to me that we've started a broader conversation."

With files from Garrett Barry