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Rainbow crosswalks are being painted in downtown Bozeman to represent inclusivity in the city.

Gender Equality Montana pitched the idea and teamed with the city of Bozeman and the Downtown Bozeman Partnership to make it happen. The crosswalks will be at the intersection of West Babcock Street and South Tracy Avenue as well as West Mendenhall Street and North Willson Avenue. Work on the crosswalks began Thursday and is expected to be completed Friday.

“I think that having the crosswalks in downtown Bozeman is just a really powerful step in the work we’re all collectively doing to be a more diverse, inclusive and just place to live,” said Christopher Coburn, Gender Equality Montana board of directors member.

Traditional rainbow colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple represent lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. Black and brown represents intersections of gender and race. White, light blue and pink acknowledge transgender and gender diverse people. Those 11 colors will be used in the crosswalks.

In 2014, Bozeman passed a non-discrimination ordinance that protects people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Coburn described the ordinance as meaning people can be themselves where they live and work. The crosswalks are designed to build upon that and visibly show inclusion is a priority for the city.

“When the community is at a just and equitable place for all of us to live, then we can all collectively thrive,” Coburn said.

The project will be owned and maintained by the City of Bozeman.

Chris Naumann, executive director of Downtown Bozeman Partnership, said he believes the crosswalks reflect the city’s open-mindedness.

“It communicates that Bozeman is a welcoming community and that we can express that,” Naumann said. “I think that’s the most important piece. That’s what it boils down to for me.”

Naumann and Coburn pointed out how similar displays have been painted in other cities and were on board with Bozeman joining them.

Naumann also said the crosswalks are an opportunity to show those values to people who live here and those who visit from elsewhere.

In the past, businesses have put posters in their windows or come up with other visible ways to support equality downtown. The new crosswalks are the latest example.

“We continue to make steps forward to make it clear that Bozeman is a safe and welcoming community for all,” city manager Jeff Mihelich said in a news release. “This city must be a place where anyone, regardless of how they identify themselves, is welcomed and has the opportunity to thrive.”

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Paul Schwedelson can be reached at pschwedelson@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2670. Follow him on Twitter @pschweds.

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