Today my daughter’s high school – San Lorenzo Valley High School in Felton, California – decided to fly an LGBTQ+ pride flag immediately underneath the American flag (where, previously, the California state flag would appear). Below is the email I sent to the principal and district superintendent in response (with names redacted):
Mr. PRINCIPAL and Ms. SUPERINTENDENT
I was profoundly disturbed to hear today about the LGBTQ+ pride flag flying in front of SLV High School, immediately underneath the American flag. While I am out of town on business and thus was not there to see it in person, my daughter NAME – a tenth grader at SLVHS – and my wife both told me of the flag’s presence. I think such a display highly inappropriate for several reasons, including the following:
1. A question of allegiance – Per district policy, it is our national flag and the flag of California that warrant display at any district school facility. Such a policy is entirely appropriate since these flags represent the political unions under, and in which, we live as citizens of this country and residents of this state. Both the United States and the State of California have a rightful claim on my allegiance, and rightly demand my appropriate submission to their authority. This is not the case with the LGBTQ+ movement. The LGBTQ+ pride flag is not commensurate in meaning, stature, or consequence with either the U.S. flag or the flag of the State of California. Rather, the LGBTQ+ pride flag makes a political, social, and even religious statement that many, myself included, find profoundly offensive. It demands recognition and condonation of what many, myself included, find deeply immoral. The LGBTQ+ movement has no right to demand the allegiance of anyone in our society, and thus its flag does not belong in a public space. Whereas, particularly in a public school setting, the national flag and the flag of California proclaim an inherent unity, the LGBTQ+ pride flag is inherently divisive.
2. A question of official bias and inappropriate condonation – As I note above, the LGBTQ+ pride flag communicates a political and social message that lies beyond the pale of what is appropriate for a public school. Flying such a flag effectively demands, albeit implicitly, that those associated with the school condone the truth claims asserted by LGBTQ+ advocates. And yet, those truth claims run directly contrary to the deeply held religious convictions of many in our society, including at least some of the students in our schools. Since when did it become appropriate for a public school to blatantly prefer the socio-political message of one party in profoundly moral questions of sexuality and gender?
3. A violation of conscience – Especially in the context of a public institution (like a school), when someone walks into a building displaying a flag, that person comes – literally and figuratively – under the authority, or the message, of what that flag represents. This is even more the case when the person in a question is a “member” of the institution whose building they enter. Consider a student walking onto the SLV campus and passing underneath the LGBTQ+ pride flag. The implicit message communicated to them is that by attending SLVHS they must submit themselves to the demands and truth claims asserted in the message conveyed by the flag itself. And yet, again, you have students who daily attend SLVHS and believe – as a matter of deep, sincere, conviction – that homosexuality is wrong, that there is such a thing as a biological man and biological woman, and that gender is not a transitory, self-determined reality. By flying the flag as happened today, SLVHS implicitly tells those students that their convictions – even religious convictions – are false, their perspective bigoted, and their opinion not welcome. The situation worsens when passing under this flag in order to access their campus becomes, in effect, a daily violation of conscience for such students.
In short, I’m amazed that SLVHS and SLVUSD have taken such an unthinking and insensitive position as to publicly display a flag other than our national and state flags. This action seems to me wholly unnecessary, and therefore aggressively offensive to those who cannot condone the LGBTQ+ philosophy and agenda. I respectfully request that SLVHS no longer fly any flag, of any group, movement, or organization, other than the U.S. flag and the flag of the State of California.
Finally, you will soon receive a letter from my daughter NAME. I’d like you to know that she wrote the letter of her own accord, without my prompting, and without reading what I’ve written here.
I await your response, and I am ready to address this issue publicly at the next Board of Trustees meeting on June 9th.