Commissioners support an inclusive and welcoming Boulder County

Guest Opinion to appear in the Sunday, Dec. 13 Daily Camera

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.


The dialogue in our society today is rife with a dangerous undercurrent of discrimination, intimidation, harassment, fear, and exclusion. Especially over the last few months, hostile or hateful rhetoric has been prevalent in the national and international news. We want to make it clear that we do not subscribe to a value system of exclusion, discrimination, or marginalization -- not as individuals, not as community leaders, and not as your elected officials. We are committed to championing a welcoming and inclusive Boulder County.

 Headshot of Deb Gardner

On November 16, Gov. John Hickenlooper declared that the State of Colorado will continue to accept refugees fleeing the war in Syria, which we whole-heartedly support. We believe the Governor was absolutely correct in stating, “We can protect our security and provide a place where the world’s most vulnerable can rebuild their lives.”


We would like to believe that Boulder County is immune to discrimination and exclusion, but we know this isn’t true, not only for immigrants and refugees but also for people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and other diverse and often marginalized residents in our communities. Sources such as the 2015 Community Foundation Serving Boulder County Trends report show that less than half of residents believe our communities are welcoming to immigrants or racial and ethnic minorities. This has also been brought to our attention through heart-rending stories from constituents, such as a resident’s daughter who was cruelly harassed for her Muslim faith. We also experience this truth at events that highlight the tragic effects of discrimination and exclusion, such as a recent remembrance vigil for the many transgendered lives that were lost to violence as a result of societal aggression toward this group. And we know from involvement in our own programs and our interactions with many community partners around equity and inclusion that there is still much work to be done.

 Headshot of Cindy

Our wish for Boulder County is to nurture a community where everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us, is welcomed and valued equally. Our recent experiences with residents who have experienced first-hand discrimination, marginalization, or even hate, have made it clear to us that we must speak out again in support of inclusion, diversity, and a welcoming community.


As leaders of Boulder County government, overseeing nearly 2,400 employees, we strive to “walk the talk” and foster a culture of inclusiveness and equality. We are continually seeking ways to improve our policies to make all staff members know they are valued, supported, and respected for who they are. In 2014 we created a Cultural Responsiveness and Inclusion Committee (CRIC) to draft a road map of goals and strategies for further advancing inclusivity at Boulder County. Newly adopted healthcare provisions for employees beginning in 2016 allow for the option to cover hormonal therapy, clinical examination and psychotherapy related to gender dysphoria. Also new in 2016 is the extension of paid family leave from one week to one month. And we have long-supported programs which advance inclusion such as People Engaged in Raising Leaders (PERL), Project Visibility, and many others.

 Headshot of Elise

It is our intention to make it known that Boulder County government is eager to welcome all individuals who wish to make our community their home. The three of us have no intention of trying to speak for anyone who may feel marginalized; instead, we intend to stand with these individuals as we continue to create a safer, more welcoming community. We will also continue this work through our policies and programs, and by showing support for diverse communities. We believe that a prosperous and successful community requires all residents to feel safe, supported, valued, and welcome.


We invite community groups, non-profits, cultural centers, church leaders, educators, and individuals to share their ideas for making a more inclusive community a reality. One great way to participate in this conversation is to visit to submit suggestions and ideas and to engage in discussions with other community members. What does a welcoming community mean to you, and how do we get there together?  Please share your thoughts and ideas with us and help us build an even more inclusive and welcoming community.


Finally, we will soon be considering adoption of a resolution that will re-affirm our and Boulder County’s commitment to being inclusive and explicitly welcome all residents to our community. We invite every resident in Boulder County to open your hearts and minds to people that you might consider “other,” and join us in finding ways to be more welcoming and inclusive.


All 3 BOCC signatures