Sonoma County Office of Education Raises Flag to Support Students, Celebrate Pride Month
The Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) on Wednesday, May 31, raised the Intersex-Inclusive Progress Pride flag in celebration of Pride month.
“Visible displays of support for LGBTQ+ students, like Pride flags, are critical components of creating a kind and welcoming environment that helps young people be successful in school,” said Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Amie R. Carter. She highlighted portions of California Education Code and state laws that outline schools’ legal mandate to provide welcoming, inclusive spaces for all types of students, and specifically for LGBTQ+ and transgender students. (Read Dr. Carter's remarks.)
“As a member of the LGBTQ+ community myself, I look for these symbols to ascertain if I am in an affirming and safe space,” Carter said.
The ceremony was attended by representatives from Sonoma County school districts, the Sonoma County Board of Education, SCOE employees, allied community groups, students, and members of the public.
Sierra Reid, a senior at Rancho Cotate High School and president of the school’s Gender & Sexuality Alliance club (GSA), spoke of the importance of flags and other symbols of support for the LGBTQ+ community.
“Today is an important day for the queer community because it makes us feel seen,” Reid said. “I never thought I would be able to do something like this while I was still in school.”
Reid stressed that much work needs to be done to make queer students feel accepted in Sonoma County, and called upon school districts to support their LGBTQ+ students, with Pride displays, designated safe spaces, and GSA clubs. Reid stressed educators’ and administrators’ responsibility to know which of their queer students are out and safe at home and which are not.
“It is your job when contacting family to make sure that you aren’t outing another student to another toxic household, because you may make the situation insurmountably worse,” Reid said.
Eduardo Oseguera, a counselor who works at Cesar Chavez Language Academy, talked about growing up queer in the Central Valley and highlighted the difficult climate young LGBTQ+ people are living in right now.
Oseguera called out the recent vandalism of Pride displays at Target stores, bans on books with inclusive themes, and state legislatures passing bills that are hostile to the trans community.
“These are all things that can be hard to look at,” Oseguera said. “I would like to work to make our schools a safe place for everyone.”
The flag-raising is the first of several planned events at SCOE to celebrate the diversity within Sonoma County’s public schools. A flag-raising ceremony to commemorate Juneteenth and the emancipation of Black slaves is planned for later this month.
“As a county office of education, SCOE has a unique responsibility to set the tone and establish an example for Sonoma County’s 40 school districts to follow,” Carter said in an email to staff about the flag-raising efforts.