Samidha Mishra

Samidha Mishra

The pride flag will fly above San Mateo Union High School District schools after all, but it wasn’t a simple process to get there.

While the Board of Trustees voted 4-1 on Friday, June 4, to fly the flag, a proposal to do so failed to reach a three-vote majority the week before. That decision caused an immediate uproar among students. Many, including me, were appalled by it.

“I was surprised and disappointed by this decision,” student Nicholas Seyfried said. “I feel like the people who are supposed to represent me only view the symbol of my community as a nuisance.”

It isn’t difficult to see why this student would be upset. Our district has built a platform of diversity, equality and social justice, yet when the time came to remain true to these ideals, the original vote of Board of Trustees didn’t reflect that. A footnote on the minutes of a meeting is not the dramatic change needed for LGBTQ+ youth. Though flying the flag cannot be considered a panacea either, it certainly is a better start than a mere proclamation of shadowed support. Quite literally, it is the bare minimum the board could have done to show its support.

“The not flying the flag isn’t a big deal,” student Liam Pierce said, “it’s the decision not to. It’s the most token of gestures and they still publicly refused. That’s what feels like a slap in the face.”

Not only did the board fail to pass a resolution to fly the flag, but the members voting against it trivialized it. One member said it would create an inappropriate precedent by flying the flag because they would be forced to fly the flags of other groups like sports teams. Comparing the pride flag to sports memorabilia completely ignores the history behind it and all the strength and resilience it represents.

“[The flag is] something that unites everyone under the LGBT+ umbrella” an anonymous student said. “It’s something we can look at and feel safe, knowing that we are not alone in our experiences.”

The flag originated right here in the Bay Area. It was created by Gilbert Baker, a gay activist, in the 1970s. Baker was prompted by Harvey Milk, America’s first openly gay elected official, to develop the flag because prior to it the symbol for the LGBT community was a pink triangle, which was what the Nazis had used to identify and oppress homosexuals during World War II. The flag was flown for the first time at San Francisco’s 1978 Pride Parade, and it symbolized “a dawn of a new gay consciousness and freedom” as Milk describes. By flying the pride flag, the district echoes these sentiments, sending the powerful message they are standing with the LGBT community and in solidarity with their students.

The logo of the Golden State Warriors depicted on their flag is just that, a logo. It does not represent the struggles and triumphs of an entire population that has been and still is severely oppressed, all it symbolizes is the location a basketball team originated.

“Not wanting to fly the flag for fear of setting precedent is a ridiculous excuse,” another anonymous student said. “The district has the competence to know not to support specific private or hate groups.”

Following this uproar, the district Board of Trustees announced its plan to revisit the decision to not fly the flag, with Greg Land, a trustee who had missed the original meeting, calling a special meeting yesterday. Land’s vote overturned the previous ruling which sent “the wrong message.” Trustee Robert Griffin, who originally voted not to fly the flag, also changed his vote Friday. In his vote, he apologized for offending those who supported it and said he should have focused on people not the policy.

While it is indeed a positive reconsideration, students still have mixed feelings about the decision, with the majority of them being concerned about the reason for the repeal.

“I am relieved that the extra vote will allow the pride flag to be flown,” Seyfried said, “but I hope this incident isn’t forgotten and that we will continue to hold our school board accountable.”

Samidha Mishra is a junior at San Mateo High School. Student News appears in the weekend edition. You can email Student News at news@smdailyjournal.com.

Recommended for you

(12) comments

aball52

I love the coach video who brings out his team lined up in front of the seated vets . He tells them they earned this seat.. You didn't earn it they did . They stopped their lives , school and served this country. When you hear the National Anthem you are going to stand there not pull your jersey not talk you are going to earn your seat as these Vets have earned theirs not entitlements but obligations to this country. Have you completed your obligations to this country? do you feel you are entitled to fly whatever falg you choose? you take away those that earned it not entiled as you feel. That's my flag USA and proud long may she wave dusty ole flag Listen to Johnny Cash sing it sometime That's how i feel my husband a Vietnam Vet Purple Heart earned his place and continued 28 1//2 years of fire service afterwards. What is your claim to fame entitlement to do as you please? Every year we are going to hear from those who feel so special and inclusive not obligated to earn anything tell us how we should do this. I know how I do this Vietnam a Purple Heart and fire Service are the way we go.

Wilfred Fernandez Jr

I offer three cheers and a salute to you and your husband, aball52. Thanks for your service.

D Gilbrech

Thank you Miss Mishra for your views. I am proud to live in a very inclusive and loving community. Maybe the next vote will be 100%, 4 out of 4. Also it makes me happy to see how it drives the other commenters "Nuts". Your the future that I want to live in.

Terence Y

Actually, Mr. Gilbrech, you live in a very inclusive and loving country. A country represented by the American flag. Please remember that on this 77th anniversary of D-Day fought against Nazi-occupied Europe. A Party, if I understand correctly, wasn’t all that accommodating to those who want to fly the divisive Pride flag. So instead of cheering for divisiveness, please honor those who fought for freedom. After all, freedom isn’t free. BTW, thought experiment – what would have happened had Nazi’s prevailed?

Wilfred Fernandez Jr

Terence,

Bigotry, stereotyping and prejudice exists in closed and misinformed minds. It is good you offer food for thought.

Wilfred Fernandez Jr

What goes on between consenting adults is not the business of governments nor the educational system. Americans have made it clear, the morals and lifestyles of one group should not be forced upon people in disagreement of the aforementioned. Rightly so, our Constitutions guarantee equal treatment under law. Different orientations are out of the closet and on public display for those interested in such things. For civility sake, give it rest.

Tafhdyd

Good evening Wilfred,

Wise words again from the sage of the north. Could you copy your comment and send it to the RNC and Mitch McConnell and any other leaders of the Republican party.

Wilfred Fernandez Jr

Hello my friend Tafhdyd,

Unfortunately politicians have their own agendas. As I see it, a unified citizenry is not on them. We will have to wait for the cretins occupying leadership in D.C. to pass away. Maybe then.

Tafhdyd

Wilfred,

I said basically the same thing in my last comment to Ray the other day in the discussion under Jonathan Madison's column about the unseen pandemic. I know you usually scan the DJ even when we don't hear from you so you probably saw it.

Dirk van Ulden

She is demonstrating what priorities are taught in school these days. Why is that flag so important? The LGBT etc, etc is a small minority in this country, yet students like her and the army of group thinkers have been persuaded to believe that they need extra attention. We should ask her what she knows about the War of Independence, the Civil War and both World Wars. Those were significant historical events that shaped our country. Can't say the same for this pride hype.

Terence Y

Ms. Mishra, if they plan on hanging the pride flag, I hope they’ll allow flags from Native American tribes indigenous to California since they have plenty of history. Historians would probably disagree that there’s no history or strength behind a Gadsden flag, a Moultrie flag, and even a Confederate flag, so they should be allowed too. After all, we want diversity, equality and social justice for everyone, don’t we?

wlydecker

Another reason to be pro-choice on where you spend your education taxes.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for visiting the Daily Journal.

Please purchase an Enhanced Subscription to continue reading. To continue, please log in, or sign up for a new account.

We offer one free story view per month. If you register for an account, you will get two additional story views. After those three total views, we ask that you support us with a subscription.

A subscription to our digital content is so much more than just access to our valuable content. It means you’re helping to support a local community institution that has, from its very start, supported the betterment of our society. Thank you very much!