State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond hosted Thursday a Progress Pride Flag Raising Ceremony and reception at the California Department of Education to mark the first day of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Pride Month. For the first time ever, in honor of LGBTQ+ Pride Month, the flag will fly at the CDE headquarters in Sacramento from June 1 through June 30.
“This flag is a representation and celebration of our diverse community and student body in the state of California,” said Thurmond. “We raise the Progress Pride Flag at the California Department of Education to stand in solidarity with our Black, indigenous, people of color, transgender, and intersectional queer students, educators, administrators, and families. At a time when there are leaders—nationally and right here in California—set on rolling back personal rights and banning texts that address issues of racism or sexual identity, the California Department of Education and I want to make it clear that we stand with our LGBTQ+ students and educators, and we applaud the many board members who have continued to uphold inclusivity.”
State Superintendent Thurmond thanked the leaders and partners that have been instrumental in leading this work. He was joined in giving remarks at the historic ceremony today by speakers State Senator Steven Bradford (District 35); State Senator Nancy Skinner (District 9); Assemblymember Lola Smallwood-Cuevas (District 28); Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (District 62); Assemblymember Christopher M. Ward (District 78); Assemblymember Evan Low (District 26); Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (District 58); Chief Deputy Cabinet Secretary, Office of the Governor, Ben Chida; and Director of Community Awareness, Response and Engagement (CARE) at the California Department of Justice, Catherina Nou, who was representing California Attorney General Rob Bonta.
Prior to the ceremony, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur (District 51), Senator Caroline Menjivar (District 20) along with other legislators who participated in the ceremony, joined Thurmond at a media event that addressed book bans and California’s leadership in supporting LGBTQ+ students.
Thurmond has a strong record of supporting LGBTQ+ students and educators. In 2019, Thurmond and the Equality California Institute co-sponsored a bill that encourages teachers to receive training on school and community resources available to support LGBTQ+ students facing bullying, harassment, discrimination, or lack of acceptance at home or school. As a result, this year, the CDE partnered with the Los Angeles County Office of Education to lead trainings that will provide teachers with the critical resources they need to help California’s LGBTQ+ students.
This year, Thurmond is sponsoring Senate Bill 760 All-Gender Restrooms (Newman), which requires all K–12 schools in California to provide appropriate and equitable access to all-gender restrooms for students to use during school hours, and Assembly Bill 5 The Safe and Supportive Schools Act (Zbur), which requires all K–12 schools in California to provide training to support LGBTQ+ pupils.
Thurmond has also been a strong supporter of the CDE LGBTQ+ Pride Committee, which played a key role in organizing the flag raising. Thurmond gave special recognition to Sharla Smith, a Health Education Consultant at the CDE, for her strong advocacy and leadership in making the Progress Pride Flag raising a reality.
The Progress Pride Flag was created by Daniel Quasar. Quasar added white, pink, and light blue stripes to represent the trans community. While the black and brown stripes still represent communities of color, the black stripe further honors the thousands of individuals lost during the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s.
More information on how to support LGBTQ+ students is available on the CDE Supporting LGBTQ+ Students website.