As a member of the Saint Anselm community or as a recent visitor to the school, you may have noticed small pride flags planted around campus, waving in the wind, standing strong in the shadow of Alumni Hall. You may have also noticed that the next day on your walk to class that that same flag, once so firm in its convictions, has been removed. It is no mistake that these flags have been disappearing.
The flags were planted anonymously, coinciding with the national Transgender Day of Remembrance, and caught the attention of nearly every passer-by. Some students were upset by the flag, some were uncomfortable, and for identifying students some took them as a sign – ‘You are not alone.’
Saint Anselm College is a Catholic institution with a majority conservative student body, and these flags were planted to force conversations and increase visibility for LGBTQ students on campus. If these flags in any way made students uncomfortable then the mission was accomplished; we should live in a world where someone’s ability to love who they love is not discriminated against. The discomfort stemming from this silent demonstration is a testimony to the need for these flags. The flags are extremely important, not only because it shows that there is an LGBTQ presence on campus and supports members of the community, but because people are constantly taking them down which simply highlights the need for more visibility on campus and more discussions about issues facing the community.
A recent article printed in the Saint Anselm Crier – the official school paper – stated, among many things, “Gay pride flags represent a movement that promotes a form of sexual promiscuity” as well as “the college does not endorse the ideology in question.” The article has sparked debates, and only further encouraged advocates for LGBTQ visibility on campus; however, there are still many individuals who decide to ignore this issue, who do not partake in the discussion for fear of discomfort. Ignorance and inaction are in some cases just as wrong as open discrimination.
As people, we all strive to be accorded the same rights and privileges. We fight for human rights, we oppose those who deny such rights to others, and yet we do not recognize our own injustices – we instead accept them as demonstrations of free speech. The preamble to the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights states “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.” Members of the LGBTQ community were given the freedom to marry in 2015, but the struggle for justice and equality still rages on, and only once there is justice can there be peace.