Dear Elizabeth Freeman Center Community,
For the past ten years Elizabeth Freeman Center participated in an international campaign called “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.” In the Berkshires, this event occurred every third Thursday of September and grew each year. It was our biggest and most visible event in the community.
Throughout the years, we have heard from members of our local LGBTQ+ community, friends, and allies that the nature of this event was problematic. Over the past year, we solicited feedback through a survey and conversations around the event.
What became clear was that the use of red shoes to symbolize “Walk a Mile,” while encouraging cis men to participate and walk in high heels at the event, has contributed to gender stereotypes, transphobic tropes, and the devaluation of our LGBTQ+ community. While it was never our intention, we acknowledge that we were causing harm. So, as an organization that seeks accountability every day through the services we provide, we must model accountability ourselves.
Elizabeth Freeman Center – our board, volunteers, and staff – sincerely and deeply apologize for the harm we have caused by failing, through the imagery we used, to include and welcome all community members to our events.
We would like to thank everyone who participated in this process. We recognize that for some, it was retriggering and difficult. Your openness and willingness to be vulnerable is creating change. And we hope that the change will be restorative.
Soon we will announce a new event that is informed by the feedback we have received, the conversations we have been a part of, and a goal to ensure that everyone feels there is a place for them with Elizabeth Freeman Center.
Our intent going forward is to ensure an inclusive, safe and welcoming event for everyone in our community. We promise we will continue to listen and learn. If you would like to reach out to us, please call 413-499-2425 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your continued support.
Janis Broderick, Executive Director
Marie Paradise, President of the Board