Someone Threw a Rock Through a Door at an LGBTQ Center in Vermont

The center has seen an uptick in hate mail since a Laura Ingraham segment aired about gender identity in Vermont schools, a staffer told VICE News.
Minneasotans hold a rally at the capitol to support trans kids in Minnesota, Texas, and around the country.
People in Minnesota hold a rally at the capitol to support trans kids in Minnesota, Texas, and around the country. (Michael Siluk / UCG / Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

An LGBTQ center in Burlington, Vermont, was vandalized this week. 

Shortly after midnight on Tuesday, an unidentified person walked up to the Pride Center of Vermont in Burlington and threw two rocks through the front door before running away, according to video surveillance footage published by alt-weekly Seven Days. The center’s physical space was closed Tuesday and will reopen next week, according to a blog post by director of communications Justin Marsh

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"Sadly, we're kind of used to this,” Marsh told VICE News. The building was targeted with alt-right vandalism in 2019, and a former iteration of the center had a brick thrown through a window in 2007

This attack occurred a few weeks after Fox News aired a segment about gender identity in Burlington schools and during continued attacks from the Vermont GOP on legislation expanding the rights of transgender children. 

Earlier this month, Fern Feather, a 29-year-old transgender woman, was murdered in Morristown, about an hour east of Burlington. Her alleged killer, 43-year-old Seth Brunell, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. Nearly a dozen trans or nonbinary people including Feather have been murdered in the U.S. in 2022, according to the Human Rights Campaign. 

“We feel there's a sense of a safety net in Vermont, because we do have really progressive LGBTQ rights and protections, and we've always been at the forefront,” Marsh said. “But we're not exempt from everything… these things can happen anywhere. And it’s a wake-up call to a lot of people that the hate is still very much alive here in Vermont.”

The vandalism at the Pride Center didn’t occur in a vacuum: Republicans across the country have introduced and passed a wave of discriminatory legislation against queer and trans people, including Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law and laws targeting gender-affirming care for kids (and even adults) and trans children in sports

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Vermont has largely been inoculated from similar legislation, considering its liberal bent—it was the first state to pass legislation allowing same-sex marriage, in 2009, and GOP Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill earlier this month to allow trans Vermonters to change their birth certificates without surgery. 

But the month of April has seen a particular uptick in hate directed at the Pride Center, after an April 6 Laura Ingraham segment on Fox News targeted a Burlington School District educator who taught an online workshop on gender identity. “That sent a lot of right-wing activists our way,” Marsh told VICE News. “We received a lot of support...but we've been getting a lot more hate mail to our USPS box.”

The Pride Center of Vermont in Burlington has received increasing amounts of hate mail and this week an unidentified person threw two rocks through the front door of the center. (Courtesy of the Pride Center of Vermont)

The Pride Center of Vermont in Burlington has received increasing amounts of hate mail and this week an unidentified person threw two rocks through the front door of the center. (Courtesy of the Pride Center of Vermont)

Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment from VICE News. 

And earlier this month, as Vermont GOP officials began targeting sponsors of a bill for trans youth to receive gender-affirming care without parental consent, the Burlington GOP chair (who is gay) tweeted out photos accusing the legislators of being “groomers,” a favorite homophobic slur of the U.S. right-wing. (A Scott spokesperson condemned the attacks in a statement to the Vermont news website VTDigger.) 

One piece of hate mail delivered Wednesday, a photo of which was shared with VICE News, says institutions like the Pride Center of Vermont should be turned into gay conversion therapy centers. 

“Your lesbians, gay homosexuals, bi-sexuals, and you transgender individuals that don’t know the difference between a boy and a girl, will be held accountable for your crimes against humanity,” the letter states. “Blood is on your hands.”

Marsh said the center’s work—including organizing a plant sale and block party next month—will continue despite the attacks. “[We’re] taking the steps to make sure that the community feels safe at our events, while also finding time to find joy and celebrate our identities is something we're trying to focus on, because it's been a rough few weeks,” Marsh told VICE News. 

“I sometimes have doubts, like, ‘Are we serving a purpose anymore? Does Vermont need an LGBTQ center?’” Marsh said. “And I’ve definitely been reminded recently that we certainly do serve a purpose. We are doing the work, and there's still a lot of work to do.”