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NY college debates whether to display rainbow flag alongside national banners

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

LONG ISLAND CITY, N.Y. — A debate over display of the rainbow “pride” flag has broken out at a Long Island City college.

Staff and LGBT students at CUNY LaGuardia Community College claim that displaying the pride flag in the school’s “Hall Of Flags” would demonstrate support for the college’s LGBT community, but opponents say the flag represents “a lifestyle,” not a nation, and has no place hanging alongside flags from more than 100 countries.

Hall of Flags at LaGuardia Community College.

The flags of the world were a gift from the United Nations “to celebrate LaGuardia’s diversity,” according to the school’s website.

“It’s our hall, it’s our flags,” education professor Richard Henry told The New York Daily News. “Why quibble over whether it’s a nation?” He said adding, “If it’s going to help our students, why not fly it?”

Henry pushed for displaying the flag earlier this month after colleagues posted notices on their office doors declaring their offices as safe zones for LGBT students.

“I don’t have nothing against gay pride,” said student Dennis Lilley, 22, of Brooklyn. “But those are national flags and I don’t believe homosexuality is a nation.”

But flying the rainbow flag “is about more than symbolism,” said Jess McDonald, a spokeswoman for Charlotte, N.C.-based Campus Pride.

McDonald said LGBT students report higher rates of harassment and discrimination compared to their heterosexual peers. In fact, almost a quarter of LGBT college staff and students reported being harassed, according to a 2010 report issued by the group. More than 43 percent reported fearing for their physical safety.

“Simple things like rainbow flags can be powerful,” McDonald said. “It really makes it feel like a safer space.”

Currently, the rainbow flag is on display in a glass showcase on a side wall.

A spokesperson for the college said a decision on whether to fly the flag rests with “a committee comprised of faculty, staff and students,” and will be decided at the beginning of the school year.

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22 more reader comments:

  1. I am gay and do not think that is appropriate, “LGBTQ” is not a nation.

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 2:29pm
  2. I don’t think it’s really the right place for it. I’m glad they want to hang it so people cna be proud and such. But we aren’t a nation so hanging it in the nations flag section is a bit misplaced.

    i’m bi, don’t hate me! xD

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 2:30pm
  3. I’m surprised I’m saying this, but I’d say no. Those are national banners for your country, your heritage – not your sexuality. How are we going to truly be equal if we have to do stuff like this to stick out? Unless this school is also hanging straight flags, and blue eyed flags, and left-handed flags, hanging a Pride flag among country flags seems very out of place to me. There must be other places on campus for that.

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 2:31pm
  4. I don’t feel like the flag belongs in a display of national flags. May e start a display of spiritual and religious flags and hang it there? Or just find another place to hang the pride flag?

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 2:31pm
  5. Then why not a confederate flag or the swastika? Opening this up for a lot of trouble… that flag can fly in a center for equality but not among the flags of the nations.

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 2:32pm
  6. Like in the Center for Non-Violence or Center for Peace Studies.

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 2:33pm
  7. I tend to think it would be nice to display it somewhere, but it does not make sense to display it with the National flags. MOO.

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 2:33pm
  8. Nations don’t exist. It’s just criminal gangs ruling over people. I’d much rather see a rainbow flag than a country flag.

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 2:34pm
  9. LGBTQ Pride is not a land… it is an intangible idea. Hang it up in a student center or a department who fights for civil rights like Gender Studies or Social Work.

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 2:35pm
  10. Nations have existed since the dawn of time. It is a human idea. But to deny they exist is ridiculous.

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 2:41pm
  11. Just because it’s a flag doesn’t mean it belongs with anything that also happens to be a flag.
    Is there a UN flag? A Hamas flag? A Black Panthers flag? A Greenpeace flag? A Daughters of Liberty flag? A Teamsters flag?
    Are there flags for every social movement that ever had a flag across the world?
    No. And there shouldn’t be, that’s not the purpose or message of a rank of national flags.

    Now, there /could/ be a /different/ display of social movements supported by the school, or movements represented in the student orgs or even the whole student and alumni body, but that would be a /different/ thing, and a different discussion.

    Now, if someone went and bought a large island somewhere, declared it to be a sovereign nation for all queer people, and granted automatic citizenship to any queer person who applied… then that would be valid… and kinda cool…. and probably really sexy-fun-times….

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 2:45pm
  12. Do it

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 2:58pm
  13. good point :)

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 3:00pm
  14. “I don’t have nothing against gay pride”. Got anything against grammar?

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 3:21pm
  15. Well I’m gay and I don’t really think my sexual body needs to be or should be a nation on it’s own haha

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 3:22pm
  16. Actually they haven’t. Before “nations” existed, there were tribes.

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 3:25pm
  17. They don’t exist because you cannot touch a nation. You can touch dirt. But that’s just dirt. You can touch “The Capital Building” but it isn’t a nation.

    There’s only people and stuff. Nations are creations of the mind.

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 3:26pm
  18. Nations are just Human Farms.

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 3:26pm
  19. Countries are just human farms. I pledge no allegiance to my farmers, nor their flags.

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 3:27pm
  20. DO IT

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 4:04pm
  21. As long as all the other flags represent a nation, or an ethnic group,then the rainbow flag does not have any place there.

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 4:14pm
  22. I gotta say I agree. These are national flags and we are not a sovereign nation. In fact, I would think this would send the wrong message, that we should all just go away and form our own country and leave the rest of the world alone. We are of every nation, every people, every culture. I am proud to be a lesbian. I am proud to be an American. The 2 are not mutually exclusive.

    Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 5:16pm