As a mother who resides in the Davis County School District, with one son who has graduated from within the district and another that is currently a high school senior, my voice counts.
When I read the news about the Davis County School administrators coming to believe that the LGBTQ pride flag is a symbol that is too “politically charged,” and so their decision is to ban the pride flag to remain “neutral” on all issues, I became distraught and broken-hearted.
How can anyone believe that a student that is LGBT is a political symbol? They are not. It is not a lifestyle to be a lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, nonbinary or a queer person. The presence of the flag does represent belonging, safety, affirmation and, most importantly, love.
It is not a religious symbol, it is not a political symbol, but it is a symbol. A symbol that could save a life.
The Utah State Board of Education has stated that it is up to each district to decide what can be displayed at school. The state board even publishes information about the suicide. You can find that information by going to their website. They have published on their website that Utah has been consistently ranking in the top five of the nation with the most significant mental health concerns. From 2011 to 2015, Utah saw a 141% increase in suicides among youth ages 10-17, compared to an increase of 23.5% nationally.
These statistics are out of date. I am not an expert when it comes to how Utah collects data to get statistics for our suicide rates. However, I do think it is important to mention that I have been furious for years about how the Davis County School District has made continual decisions that hurt our LGBT youth.
I will never forget in 2017, when Davis School District blocked sexual orientation questions from a student survey that could have helped the CDC to track data to help in the prevention of teen suicide. I called the school district then, and was told it was too sensitive of a topic. I did disagree with them, and asked them to consider the importance of this invaluable data.
The one thing that I regret is that I did not do more and say more in 2017 when The Salt Lake Tribune brought this issue to my attention. Maybe if I would have done more, or said more, I could have helped push the issue with other parents and unite together to help our children and teenagers. It is 2021 and nothing has changed, in fact it is even worse. The one thing that could save a life, a flag that represents safety has been banned.
We have one of our state board members, Natalie Cline, campaigning around the state of Utah promoting school resource guides published by the Child & Parents Rights Campaign. The resource guide she had on display in the Kaysville City Library is called “Navigating the Transgender Landscape,” this nonprofit organization that publishes these manuals are an anti-LGBT group. I know this because I went to her meeting.
I do not have a child in the LGBT community, but I am going to make sure that I am there to advocate for those that may not have a voice. Let the Pride Flag be displayed in schools. It may save a life.
Genevra Prothero, Syracuse, is a mother in Davis County and has a high school senior in the Davis County School District. She is one of the founders of the Facebook Group Davis PRIDE, and UCPC-Utah Citizens for Positive Change, she has attended a majority of the Davis School District Board of Education meetings to advocate for teachers and the LBGT community.
If you or someone you know is at risk of self-harm, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24-hour support at 1-800-273-8255. The Trevor Project also has a 24-hour suicide hotline for the LGBTQ+ community at 1-866-488-7386.