The Progress Flag: A Symbol of Greater Acceptance and Equality


Celia Coleman

The progress flag was hung up and on display beside the American flag at Hamilton Wenham Regional High School.

As pride month emerges, a new idea has been brought to the table at the most recent school committee meetings. Should a pride flag be displayed behind the committee in Buker’s multi-purpose room, just like the American flag is?

This idea came to be after being suggested by a committee member themself. Across from the American flag in Buker’s multi-purpose room, there’s an empty space, perfect for another flag. The suggestion to hang the progress flag, a version of the pride flag that is inclusive of transgender and non-white people, was discussed. This was the first request made amongst 2 involving pride and the LGBTQ+ community at the school committee meeting on Wednesday, May 19th.

At the beginning of the meeting, during the 20 minutes where members of the community can come forward and speak to the committee, two people came forward and voiced their support for the display of the progress flag.

The first person read aloud a letter to the committee written by their daughter, who supports the idea of displaying the progress flag. They spoke of the fear LGBTQ+ people feel when it comes to coming forward with their true identity, and the fear LGBTQ+ people have that they will not be supported for simply being who they are. The letter also spoke of the presence of other flags throughout the school, saying, “We put a flag in all of the classrooms that honor the country, why can’t we put up a single flag to honor all of the people inside of this classroom who are part of this country?” This raises an interesting point, and further backs the idea to hang the progress flag. This letter showed the support that students have for each other, for the LGBTQ+ community, and the display of the progress flag.

The second person to come forward also spoke of their support for the display of this flag. They mentioned how displaying these flags is welcoming, and shows support for LGBTQ+ students. They also talked about how a pride flag is already displayed in the school library, in the high school, and the symbol is present throughout school hallways. Pride flags are present in other schools, and both Hamilton and Wenham have voted to display pride flags in the past and in present times, as well as the city of Boston. They mentioned how anti-LGBTQ+ culture is present in our schools, and displaying progress flags will help combat this issue.

As the meeting continued, the suggestion was further discussed. The request itself was to have the progress flag raised permanently behind the committee during their meetings, regardless of location. During the discussion, a committee member said, “There are statements of value throughout the room, but this is one that’s absent from this particular room, and it’s not absent from other rooms”. Committee members appeared to be in general agreement throughout the meeting, asking each other for clarification and more detail about this plan as the discussion continued.

From the first request, the matter of having pride flags permanently raised in all 3 elementary schools was mentioned and was later added to the original request to raise the progress flag behind the committee.

Another request that arose from the discussion was to raise progress flags through June on all district offices and building’s flag poles.

As these matters were further discussed, the point of hanging the rainbow flag, or pride flag, instead of the progress flag, was brought up. It was said that the rainbow flag was more recognizable, which was met with the response that the progress flag was more inclusive, while it may not be as recognizable. Committee member Anna Siedzik said, “It explicitly is inclusive of trans community members as well as non-white community members, so it’s a more purposeful statement of inclusivity”. It was ultimately decided that the progress flag would be displayed.

The matter of having the progress flag visible and displayed during school committee meetings and hung up in all 3 elementary schools was voted upon first, and resulted in a 6 to 1 vote, passing the request.

The second matter of raising progress flags on all district offices and buildings flag poles for June was voted upon next and was unanimously approved.

Having both of these requests passed and approved is a huge step towards an even greater sense of inclusivity, unity, and equality throughout the towns of Hamilton and Wenham. Currently, throughout Hamilton and Wenham, progress flags can be seen hung up and flying at all district offices and buildings, including Hamilton Wenham Regional High School, Miles River Middle School, and both the Hamilton and Wenham town halls. The progress flag and pride flag can also be seen displayed on the houses of many residents throughout Hamilton and Wenham.

The entire community has been seen coming together and showing their support and love for each other, and those who are different from themselves throughout the month of June.