For the first time in the seven-year history of San Diego State University's Rainbow Flag-Raising ceremony, members of the Boy Scouts of America participated in honor of the recent ruling to eliminate sexual orientation as membership criterion.
The ceremony kicked-off San Diego's Pride Week to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community.
More than 100 students, faculty, staff and members of the community attended to rally for LGBT equality and show support for marriage equality and LGBT rights. The flag will fly on the flagpole at the end of Campanile Walkway in front of Hepner Hall.
"We are very grateful to continue a strong relationship between SDSU and San Diego Pride," said Stephen Whitburn, head of San Diego Pride. "Displaying this rainbow flag is a powerful symbol to make the community feel welcome."
For the past seven years, the flag has been raised by members and supporters of the LGBTQ community. Last year, uniformed military personnel participated in support of LGBTQ solidarity after the 2012 repeal of the “don’t ask don’t tell” military policy.
During the Flag-Raising, SDSU President Elliot Hirshman spoke of the importance of an inclusive campus.
"At SDSU, diversity and excellence go hand in hand," he said."Our community marches together to show our Aztec pride in diversity."
SDSU was also presented with a certificate of recognition from Assemblymember Toni Atkins from the 78th District. The certificate acknowledges SDSU's commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Reece Sealock, Michael Lobo and Mick Rabin, all lifetime Eagle Scouts, participated in the flag-raising.
While Rabin played "Reveille" on bugle, Lobo and Sealock raised the flag with the help of members of Associated Students, including Josh Morse, Gabrielle Gray and Michelle Ong.
"The rainbow flag has symbolized the diversity of the LGBT community for more than 30 years," Hirshman said. " Our annual flag-raising is a time to celebrate that diversity and reflect on the progress we've made."
A safe campus
Creating an environment where all students feel safe, included and inspired to learn is an important part of the SDSU experience. That effort has been recognized for the past three years by the national organization, Campus Pride on its LGBT Friendly Campus Climate Index, where SDSU is ranked this year as one of 32 "Five Star" campuses in the nation.
Among the more notable efforts SDSU has made in this area in recent years include:
- The launch of the first LGBT major in California and only the second in the nation
- Safe Zones, a volunteer training program that equips trained Safe Zone "allies" with tools to guide students and others to campus and community resources
- An annual Rainbow Flag-Raising to celebrate San Diego Pride Week
- An LGBTQ Resources Fair
- An LGBTQ focused lecture series
- The Lavender graduation for students who identify as LGBTQ.
SDSU plans to open a new LGBT Center in the fall.