Trumbull diversity task force seeks feedback

Tara Figueroa speaks during the Oct. 22 meeting of the town's Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force.

Tara Figueroa speaks during the Oct. 22 meeting of the town’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force.

Zoom screen capture

TRUMBULL — Since forming in September, the Trumbull Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force has began making plans to fulfill its mission of fostering “a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive Trumbull.” But the group also wants to hear from the community.

In the new group’s first three meetings members have begun planning an art contest and also have been looking into ways to celebrate the diversity that already exists within the town, according to Chairman Tara Figueroa.

“When you drive through Trumbull, there’s not really a sense of the cultures and people that live here,” Figueroa said.

But before any of that happens, Figueroa said the members would like to hear from the public. Toward that end, the group will hold a public hearing Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. on Zoom to hear feedback from the community. The meeting ID is 934 3652 8087 and the password is 468124.

“We’re still so new that we’re sort of feeling out what our role is,” she said. “We want to know what we can help make happen, and how we can support positive things that already are happening.”

As an advisory committee, the task force relies on the community for guidance.

“We’ve started to see people tagging our members on Facebook when things happen that they think we should be aware of,” Figueroa said. “And that’s important because we aren’t the type of committee that’s going to be creating investigations.”

For example, a recent Zoom organizational meeting of the high school’s Gay Straight Alliance was disrupted by a string of bigoted comments. Former Assistant Superintendent Jonathan Budd said the school notified police at the apparent hack and hate speech, but the person responsible has never been identified. In fact, Budd said, it was unknown if the person was a Trumbull High student, or even local at all.

The schools’ immediate action and condemnation of the incident is a positive, but Figueroa said there was a sense of missed opportunity too.

“There was quite a bit of movement, but there also could have been a conversation on how this kind of behavior became normalized,” she said. “We learned about it because someone reached out to us with their concern. That’s what we’re hoping to see more of.”

And the concepts of equity and inclusion are not limited to race and gender or sexual orientation issues, she said. Another member of the committee was contacted by someone who expressed their concern that the town’s social services, which offers help with things like caregiver support and applying for housing, is located at The Center at Priscilla Place, along with the food pantry and senior center.

But the center is difficult to reach via public transportation, with the nearest bus stop a mile away at Hawley Lane.

“That’s a real challenge to someone who has a baby in a stroller,” Figueroa said. “And we wouldn’t necessarily know about it unless someone told us. But one of our goals is making the town more accessible to populations that are marginalized.”

The task force also is not just looking for examples of issues that need to be addressed. Positive examples of inclusion and diversity should be brought to the committee’s attention to be celebrated, she said. The group’s upcoming art contest, still in the preliminary phase, is envisioned as a celebration of Trumbull’s diversity, with themed artwork displayed around town at local businesses and public places.

“It can be like a scavenger hunt,” Figueroa said. “Give people a chance to get out and experience the community.”