News

Sunol school board considers ban on all flags except U.S., state emblems

Resolution stems from residents' reaction to LGBTQ pride flag being raised on school pole

The Sunol Glen Unified School District Board of Trustees is set Tuesday to discuss a potential resolution that would require Sunol Glen School to only display the U.S. and state flags at the school.

The proposal comes in the wake of the Aug. 1 board meeting when SGUSD Board President Ryan Jergensen responded to four community members who spoke at the end of the meeting saying that they were concerned about "special interest flags being flown."

"There were a few people in the community that were concerned about which flags or special interest groups were being put up on the chain linked fence or flag pole," Jergensen said.

Though not directly stated by name by Jergensen or the critic speakers, the conversation seemed to be referring to the LGBTQ pride flag that the school usually hangs up from the fence outside of the school during June as a way to recognize Pride Month -- based on other comments at the meeting and subsequent public discourse in Sunol circles.

While the flag has been put up every year since 2021 -- thanks to a resolution approved by the board at that time in support of the LGBTQ+ community -- without any issues, this year was different in that the flag was torn down during the first week of June, according to a letter written by former Sunol school board member Denise Kent Romo.

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In that letter, which she shared to the "Inform Sunol" email newsletter, Romo stated that Sunol Superintendent/Principal Molleen Barnes had raised the flag on the school's flagpole in order to ensure its safety, which led to some resident concern. Four community members voiced those concerns about fairness and making sure other groups don't get to put up their own flags during that Aug. 1 board meeting.

Romo said that she is upset that rather than addressing and condemning the potential hate crime vandalism, school board members have decided to draft the resolution in question in order to ensure no other flags, such as the pride flag, are ever raised in the school.

"Rather than condemning whoever committed the vandalism, I heard people at a school board meeting dehumanizing our LGBTQ+ kids by calling them a -- 'special interest group' -- intimating that they had a political agenda of sorts," Romo stated in her letter referring to the four who spoke at the August meeting. "It is fact that our LGBTQ+ students are a protected class and not a 'special interest group.'"

The proposed resolution specifically cites California Government Code that states it is "neither federal nor California law requires elementary school districts to display any other flags besides the Flag of the United States of America and the Flag of the State of California."

"The Sunol Glen Unified School District desires to display only those flags required by law," the statement reads.

If resolved and adopted, the resolution states that the school will effectively immediately "display only the Flag of the United States of America and the Flag of the State of California at the Sunol Glen School."

The board's open-session meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday (Sept. 12). Read the full agenda here.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly implied Trustee Ryan Jergensen directly stated the LGBTQ pride flag during the August board meeting. Although the backdrop of the conversation, as based on other comments, the board member did not refer to the pride flag by name in his statement on displays by "special interest groups". The Weekly regrets the error.

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Christian Trujano
 
Christian Trujano, a Bay Area native and San Jose State alum, joined Embarcadero Media in May 2022 following his graduation. He is an award-winning student journalist who has covered stories in San Jose ranging from crime to higher education. Read more >>

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Sunol school board considers ban on all flags except U.S., state emblems

Resolution stems from residents' reaction to LGBTQ pride flag being raised on school pole

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Sep 12, 2023, 5:06 am
Updated: Tue, Sep 12, 2023, 2:05 pm

The Sunol Glen Unified School District Board of Trustees is set Tuesday to discuss a potential resolution that would require Sunol Glen School to only display the U.S. and state flags at the school.

The proposal comes in the wake of the Aug. 1 board meeting when SGUSD Board President Ryan Jergensen responded to four community members who spoke at the end of the meeting saying that they were concerned about "special interest flags being flown."

"There were a few people in the community that were concerned about which flags or special interest groups were being put up on the chain linked fence or flag pole," Jergensen said.

Though not directly stated by name by Jergensen or the critic speakers, the conversation seemed to be referring to the LGBTQ pride flag that the school usually hangs up from the fence outside of the school during June as a way to recognize Pride Month -- based on other comments at the meeting and subsequent public discourse in Sunol circles.

While the flag has been put up every year since 2021 -- thanks to a resolution approved by the board at that time in support of the LGBTQ+ community -- without any issues, this year was different in that the flag was torn down during the first week of June, according to a letter written by former Sunol school board member Denise Kent Romo.

In that letter, which she shared to the "Inform Sunol" email newsletter, Romo stated that Sunol Superintendent/Principal Molleen Barnes had raised the flag on the school's flagpole in order to ensure its safety, which led to some resident concern. Four community members voiced those concerns about fairness and making sure other groups don't get to put up their own flags during that Aug. 1 board meeting.

Romo said that she is upset that rather than addressing and condemning the potential hate crime vandalism, school board members have decided to draft the resolution in question in order to ensure no other flags, such as the pride flag, are ever raised in the school.

"Rather than condemning whoever committed the vandalism, I heard people at a school board meeting dehumanizing our LGBTQ+ kids by calling them a -- 'special interest group' -- intimating that they had a political agenda of sorts," Romo stated in her letter referring to the four who spoke at the August meeting. "It is fact that our LGBTQ+ students are a protected class and not a 'special interest group.'"

The proposed resolution specifically cites California Government Code that states it is "neither federal nor California law requires elementary school districts to display any other flags besides the Flag of the United States of America and the Flag of the State of California."

"The Sunol Glen Unified School District desires to display only those flags required by law," the statement reads.

If resolved and adopted, the resolution states that the school will effectively immediately "display only the Flag of the United States of America and the Flag of the State of California at the Sunol Glen School."

The board's open-session meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday (Sept. 12). Read the full agenda here.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly implied Trustee Ryan Jergensen directly stated the LGBTQ pride flag during the August board meeting. Although the backdrop of the conversation, as based on other comments, the board member did not refer to the pride flag by name in his statement on displays by "special interest groups". The Weekly regrets the error.

Comments

Mike
Registered user
Val Vista
on Sep 12, 2023 at 10:06 am
Mike, Val Vista
Registered user
on Sep 12, 2023 at 10:06 am

Banning the Pride Flag (among others) is an attempt by conservatives to blame others (non-white, non-conservative, non-conforming, non-Christians) for the problems in this world. Their world would be a world that allows "othering" and the perpetuation of hate. Sadly, these folks want to force others into their worldview through violence, intimidation, and other vile methods. These individuals are a small but very vocal minority. Tell this vocal, threatening minority that we do not live in their small world, and they are welcome to join us but they need to start accepting that this is the world we live in today. Violence, intolerance, hate, and being a loud vocal minority isn't going to change that.


Michael Austin
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 12, 2023 at 10:24 am
Michael Austin , Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Sep 12, 2023 at 10:24 am

School board members are elected in "nonpartisan elections".


Swagu
Registered user
Avila
on Sep 12, 2023 at 11:28 am
Swagu, Avila
Registered user
on Sep 12, 2023 at 11:28 am

Fantastic decision by the sunol board!

Mike would sure be crying if a Catholic flag was waived at school grounds!


Janie Donbs
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 12, 2023 at 5:24 pm
Janie Donbs, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Sep 12, 2023 at 5:24 pm

I am concerned about the District’s proposal to adopt a resolution banning all flags, but specifically targeting the Pride Flag.

This common-place practice in our local communities, across the nation and internationally is not a political statement. It is a symbol of diversity, equity and inclusion. It helps enable young people who are gay or unsure of their identity feel accepted and included.

The School Board has an obligation under California law to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for all students. Banning the Pride Flag would definitely undermine the safety and inclusiveness of the LGBTQ+ community.


CWM
Registered user
Stoneridge
on Sep 13, 2023 at 1:42 pm
CWM, Stoneridge
Registered user
on Sep 13, 2023 at 1:42 pm

Mike, go look into a mirror. You will see everything that you described in your ranting paragraph staring back at you. Guess you never thought that it just may be "YOU" that is the real problem. Let people live the life they want and stop shoving your beliefs down other peoples throats, they are growing tired of it.


Kevin
Registered user
Castlewood
on Sep 13, 2023 at 7:01 pm
Kevin, Castlewood
Registered user
on Sep 13, 2023 at 7:01 pm

100% agree with Mike. It is the conservatives that are forcing their opinions on the rest of us. This is happening all over the country. It is an organized movement by conservatives to create division and hatred. It does not belong in our communities.


Al Bronzini
Registered user
Downtown
on Sep 14, 2023 at 10:11 am
Al Bronzini, Downtown
Registered user
on Sep 14, 2023 at 10:11 am


I applaud the Sunol School board for making that decision. It matters not to me what your lifestyle or political choices are. What does matter is the use of a tax payer funded institution of learning to broadcast your beliefs.
USA and CA flags only, they represent all of the people.


Longtime Resident
Registered user
Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 15, 2023 at 10:30 am
Longtime Resident, Amberwood/Wood Meadows
Registered user
on Sep 15, 2023 at 10:30 am

@Al Bronzini

Only in backwards world is the exclusion of all flags but official government flags considered inclusive. Stop using taxpayer funded institutions to teach your personal brand of backwards logic.


Longtime Resident
Registered user
Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 15, 2023 at 10:41 am
Longtime Resident, Amberwood/Wood Meadows
Registered user
on Sep 15, 2023 at 10:41 am

@CWM

How does it personally affect you when you see a rainbow flag? Does your life take a downward turn? Do you lose your job and your friends? Are you not able to function in your day to day routines? Please explain.


John
Registered user
Birdland
on Sep 15, 2023 at 10:52 am
John, Birdland
Registered user
on Sep 15, 2023 at 10:52 am

Why just a rainbow flag? How about a various religious flags, organization flags, flags against cancer or other diseases, ethnic flags, where does it stop. The US flag is not to have any other flag flown below it on the same flag pole unless it is a state flag, military flag or pow/mia flag. All other flags should be flown on separate flag poles lower that the US flag. Learn some flag etiquette and use some common sense.


Longtime Resident
Registered user
Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 15, 2023 at 7:30 pm
Longtime Resident, Amberwood/Wood Meadows
Registered user
on Sep 15, 2023 at 7:30 pm

"The US flag is not to have any other flag flown below it on the same flag pole unless it is a state flag, military flag or pow/mia flag"

Not true! You can fly many other flags just as long as you follow the order of display.

And if you haven't yet realized it, the Sunol ban includes banning military and pow/mia flags because it specifically names only flags required to be flown by law, which are the US flag and CA state flag alone.


John
Registered user
Birdland
on Sep 15, 2023 at 9:31 pm
John, Birdland
Registered user
on Sep 15, 2023 at 9:31 pm

Sorry LTR. Check the flag protocol you will find you are wrong. Let me know your reference of your point.


Longtime Resident
Registered user
Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 15, 2023 at 11:32 pm
Longtime Resident, Amberwood/Wood Meadows
Registered user
on Sep 15, 2023 at 11:32 pm

What makes you think one cannot fly flags other than state, military, and pow/mia flags underneath the US flag? I shouldn't have to look this stuff up for you. Is the flag code that difficult to read? The rainbow flag gets flown all the time underneath the US flag by various government entities because there's nothing in the code saying otherwise.


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