Last month the nation watched as the City of Modesto struggled to handle an event that promoted hate, violence, and hostility towards the LGBTQ members of our community.
After the attempted straight pride event in Modesto, many members of the LGBTQ community have been targeted with hate crimes including hurtful text messages, death threats, and homophobic comments.
With this surge in hate crimes, it has become even more important to show our support for the targeted members of our community.
Members of “Be the Change Turlock” have asked the Turlock City Council to discuss raising the rainbow pride flag during the Stanislaus County Pride weekend, at the September 10th City Council meeting at 6:00 p.m.
Michelle Park, local activist, explains what raising the flag would mean for our community. “It shows that we won't be deterred, and we won't be frightened, and our community would stand behind us. That they accept who we are, as we are, and that they believe we should be treated with respect and dignity,” says Park.
In their press release, “Be the Change Turlock” says that raising the flag would be an act of solidarity and an attempt to help targeted members of the LGBTQ community heal from the recent outpouring of hate.
Christy Phouk (freshmen, Political Science) says, “It’s kind of upsetting to see people hating on what others believe in.”
One Stan State Student, who asked to remain anonymous to protect her identity as her family is strict and in her words, “not supportive of that,” agreed saying, “I think that if you don’t agree with something, you shouldn’t go out of your way to hurt people for it because they aren’t hurting anyone.” She added that raising the flag would be a good idea because it would be sending the message that Turlock is in line with the rest of the country. “It’s not like this radical idea. It’s just saying ‘hey, you’re equal. We see you.’”
According to the City of Turlock Flag Policy, “The display of flags shall support the objectives of the City and present the City in a positive and professional manner.” In addition, it states that ”The City’s flagpoles are not intended to serve as a forum for free expression by the public. The City’s flagpoles are to be used exclusively by the City, where the City Council may display a commemorative flag as a form of government expression.”
Although the code prevents the flag from being flown at the request of others, Park explains that the community is able to ask the City Council to determine that the flag is important for government speech. Because the City of Turlock already signed an anti-hate resolution in 2017, raising the pride flag is a natural next step in the anti-hate policy. As this policy is already a part of the government, the flag could be considered government speech.
Carolina Alfaro, Director of the Diversity Center, says, “I know that they have their government rules and whatnot but when it comes to causes, it’s important for them to understand who their community is and stand for these causes that the community believes in.”
By making the choice to fly the pride flag, Turlock would be following in the steps of our neighboring cities of Tracy, Dublin, and Sacramento.
“Our community is long overdue to show solidarity to our LGBTQ community, not only here in Turlock but in the surrounding communities and to our campus’ students. It shows that there’s a sense of belonging here in this particular town.” Says Alfaro.
It is the responsibility of Stanislaus State students, as members of the community, to take a stand and shape Turlock into a city that they can be proud of.
There are many ways that students can show their support. “Come to the city council on Tuesday. We’re asking people to wear rainbow gear, bring rainbow flags if they have them. If they want to prepare a statement, they can,” says Park adding, “I encourage them to make statements about what the flag means to them, how it would make them feel for their city to raise that flag. Flags mean something. They stand for something.”
However, no one should feel obligated to speak because simply showing up and wearing the colors is enough to make a visual statement.
Park emphasizes the importance of standing together as a community when she says, “Hate cannot come into our community and tear it apart. We wove this fabric years ago, and it’s not going to be ripped apart by outsiders who came into our town and organized that parade.”