Pushing for inclusivity statewide, high school raises Pride flag

A group of students, faculty, and school and district administration at Vashon High School championed the effort.

On June 1, the Vashon Island School District proudly announced that Vashon High School (VHS) is one of the first high schools in the state of Washington to raise the Pride flag, a symbolic representation of LGBTQ+ pride and inclusivity.

The historic action reflects the district’s ongoing commitment to creating a safe and welcoming environment for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The initiative to fly the Pride flag at Vashon High School was spearheaded by a dedicated group of students, faculty, school and district administration who advocated for greater visibility and support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Recognizing the importance of promoting inclusivity and fostering a sense of belonging, the school district unanimously supported the proposal, marking a significant milestone for Vashon and the state as a whole.

“We are immensely proud to announce that Vashon High School will be among the pioneers in Washington State to raise the Pride flag. This action signifies our deep commitment to embracing diversity, creating an accepting environment, and standing up for the rights and well-being of all students,” said Superintendent Dr. Slade McSheehy.

The flag being flown is the 2021 variation known as the Intersex-Inclusive Pride Flag. It includes the traditional rainbow colors and also several more colors to highlight the intersex, trans, and BIPOC members of our community. Its presence at Vashon High School will serve as a constant reminder of the school’s dedication to supporting and empowering LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff.

The decision to fly the Pride flag aligns with the Vashon Island School District’s Promise — a statement contained in its recently adopted strategic plan – and broader efforts to promote inclusivity and cultivate a culture of respect and acceptance. The district has implemented various policies and initiatives aimed at fostering a supportive environment, including diversity training programs for staff and the establishment of safe spaces for students to express themselves freely.

“Raising the flag on June 1 will not be the last step in making sure our queer students are welcomed, known, and treasured at our school,” said VHS teacher and advisor of the Genderqueer Affinity Group and Queer Spectrum Alliance Cristina Ramirez. “However, let it be the signal to our community that we are out, we are proud, and we are just beginning.”

Vashon High School hosted a special ceremony on June 1 during lunch to commemorate this historic event. The ceremony brought together students, staff, community leaders, and advocates for LGBTQ+ rights to celebrate the progress made and reaffirmed their commitment to promoting equality and acceptance within the Vashon Island community.

“If [people] see that we have this flag flown at our school, they know that we accept everybody and we want diversity,” said sophomore Dakota McBride, a member of the Genderqueer Affinity Group, during the May school board meeting. “I think that is very important to show that our school is supportive.”