Its signs may be blue and white but the crosswalks around Capitol Hill Station will be rainbows. While it likely won’t be the most effectual of the recommendations, a proposal to add more rainbow crosswalks to Capitol Hill is part of a plan released Thursday by Mayor Ed Murray’s LGBTQ Task Force “to support a safe, inclusive and welcoming environment for LGBTQ people in Seattle.”
Let’s hope this one doesn’t get rolled back.
“Seattle has long been a place where everyone can find an accepting and tolerant home,” Murray is quoted as saying in the announcement of the task force recommendations. “We celebrate our history of advancing equity for the LGBTQ community and we will support efforts to make Seattle even more inclusive. Thank you to the task force for identifying these actions to reduce the violent attacks and verbal harassment experienced by LGBTQ people.”
The LGBTQ Task Force plan is organized into four areas: Public Safety, LGBTQ Youth, the Built Environment, and Public Understanding:
· Seattle Police Department will continue the Safe Place program to identify local businesses that will shelter victims of harassment until officers arrive.
· The Department of Neighborhoods will use Neighborhood Matching Funds to support projects that promote LGBTQ safety.
· The City will direct more resources to support Project EQTY and other social service providers that work with LGBT youth.
· The Human Services Department will improve rapid rehousing and access to hotel vouchers for transgender homeless youth who experience a disproportionately high risk of violence.
· Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities and the Department of Transportation will address dark alleys and other physical environments on Capitol Hill that provide cover for criminals.
· Install additional rainbow crosswalks near the new Capitol Hill light rail station.
· Adopt a new City ordinance to require that single-person restrooms in public accommodations and city facilities be signed for all genders.
· The Seattle Office for Civil Rights will launch a public campaign to educate all Seattle residents about the concerns and rights of their LGBTQ neighbors.
Some of the initiatives are already underway. CHS reported here on the rollout of the Safe Place program with SPD working with neighborhood businesses to increase awareness and provide resources for helping people facing harassment or hate activity. Meanwhile, the mayor’s office has already put forward legislation requiring all-gender restrooms in Seattle. And, of course, Pike/Pine already sports 11 rainbow crosswalks.
The task force was convened by Murray earlier this year in response to growing concerns about ongoing street crime and bias incidents targeting gay, lesbian, and transgender victims. While some have pushed to approach the problem through economics and housing, others have called for more to be done from the policing and public safety side. The city is now funding a year-round youth shelter at 19th/Madison’s PSKS.
In addition to the rainbow crosswalks on Broadway near the light rail station due to open in 2016, the recommendations also include a possible plan to create even more visible symbols in the Gayborhood. “The City will also explore the possibility of installing LGBTQ-themed street signs or markers in Capitol Hill, as a joint effort of the City, community organizations, and other stakeholders,” the plan reads.
Other public space initiatives in the city also appear to dovetail with the LGBTQ plan including underway plans to make streets safer by addressing “dark alleys and other physical environments on Capitol Hill that provide cover for criminals.” Eliminating dumpsters is one element already in motion. Seattle has also been increasing efforts to “activate” alleyways — though, in some instances, the city has also de-activated them.
The full LGBTQ Task Force “action plan” is embedded at the bottom of this post.