Mayor orders city to purge social media of Pride messages

Church steeple with rainbow flags nearby
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A Midwestern mayor has ordered his town to purge its social media accounts of any references to Pride Month, saying that the city “should not engage in supporting a social agenda.”

On June 1, the city of Westfield, Indiana posted an image on Facebook and Twitter that said, “We talk about the ‘Westfield Way’ and how it sets us apart. We are committed to being a welcoming and safe community for ALL. Happy Pride Month, Westfield.”

The Westfield Facebook message

The city faced a backlash over the image and by the next day, it was removed from both platforms.

“It made me sad,” Brian Ayers, co-founder of Indiana GLSEN, told the Indy Star. “To see an inclusive message and to see it almost immediately taken down was disheartening.”

Mayor Andy Cook (R) said that city workers put up the message without his approval.

“The City of Westfield’s Communications Department created a social media post on Thursday recognizing Pride Month,” he said. “Upon further review, I feel the city should not engage in supporting a social agenda, and as such, I directed the post to be removed.” 

The Indy Star notes that the city has posted messages recognizing other minority groups, including a message on February 1 to honor Black History Month and another for Juneteenth.

The neighboring Hamilton County cities of Carmel and Fishers posted messages to social media about Pride Month, but Noblesville has not yet posted such a message.

The state of Indiana passed several anti-LGBTQ+ bills earlier this year, including a ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth. The bill bans both gender-affirming medication and surgery, but it also requires youth already undergoing care to detransition.

Another bill bans schools from using the correct “pronoun, title, or word” to refer to transgender kids. It also requires teachers to out transgender kids to their parents and bans discussions of “human sexuality” in lower grades, which critics have said is a euphemism for banning discussions of LGBTQ+ people.

“This law attempts to erase LGBTQ voices, histories, and lived experiences from schools,” the ACLU of Indiana tweeted. “Our attorneys are assessing the law, and we will do everything in our power to protect LGBTQ rights.”

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