When I was finishing up my masters in music education at Westminster Choir College, my small seminar class was invited to meet a famous British composer who was coming into town. I had just visited the amazing sculpture garden in northern New Jersey, and thought that this fellow from the UK might be interested in hearing about some local attractions. I had read much about English gardens, and assumed he would be interested. He was not. His topic of conversation was about composing, and dismissed my offer of expanding the horizons of getting to know this man. I learned something from that. He was caught in a box of understanding. Boxes of understanding are created to figure things out. We all do it. It helps us simplify the way we look at things. I have always rejected being put into a box. I grew up as a twin, and many people had ideas about what being a twin should be, and I was obstinate enough to reject being stereotyped.

June is Pride Month, a the time for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ+) Community, and allies, to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising—a series of protests held in response to the June 28, 1969, police raid of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village.

With over 80% of Vermonters having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and nearly 72% of us fully vaccinated, today [6/15/21] the Governor declared an end to the State of Emergency and the termination of pandemic related social restrictions. It is significant that Vermont is the first U.S. State to reach an 80% vaccinated rate. It is also significant that throughout the pandemic Vermont suffered only 24,339 known COVID infections and 256 total deaths; both our infection and mortality rate were the least in the Nation compared to the 49 other States. And while even a single death is a regrettable tragedy, stacked against Alabama’s half a million plus cases and 11,000 (and counting) fatalities, it’s clear that we fared better than most. And while we are not out of the woods yet, we have also emerged with the 5th lowest unemployment rate in the Nation at 2.9% (Texas by comparison is at 6.7% while Florida is at 4.8%).

Did you know that 1 in 6 Gen Z adults identify as being part of the LGBTQIA+ community? We celebrate Pride month to publicly include all members of our families and communities who in the past had to hide who they were. Talking about Pride month as a family can make a big difference in how our children see the world. Some common ways to celebrate can include attending a parade, doing a related art project, fly a pride flag, volunteer your time as a family to an LGBTQIA+ related cause, and any other way your family sees fit! While bringing more awareness during the month of June is important, we also want to be sure we are carrying this messaging through in our daily lives throughout the remainder of the year. Here are some tips on how we can do so:

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to hold hearings upon President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to fill a Supreme Court vacancy - the longest vacancy in our history - hoping a Republican might next be elected to make such nomination. McConnell was fulfilling his stated intent as Senate leader to block efforts of a Democratic African American president at every opportunity he found.

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