A resolution for the University of Wyoming’s student government’s consideration would fly a flag commonly associated with LBGT pride on the university campus, but not all students are supportive of the proposal.
The Student Senate of the Associated Students of the University of Wyoming, or ASUW, is scheduled to vote on a motion to fly a pride flag on campus during its regular meeting Tuesday.
The resolution’s author, ASUW Vice President Tyler Wolfgang, recommended the Student Outreach and Policy Committee amend the resolution to call for the flag to be flown on Prexy’s Pasture during the month of June, which is also LGBT pride month, according to the Library of Congress. Language in the resolution would also call for it not to supersede the American, state of Wyoming and UW flags already on display.
The matter is complicated, however, because of an incident that took place earlier in the semester. On Jan. 23, the first day of the spring semester, UW Police Department responded to complaints the pride flag was flying where an American flag normally flies. UWPD officers found the American flag was restrained with zip ties and a lock was put on the flag pole that made it difficult to remove.
UW spokesperson Chad Baldwin said Tuesday that UWPD remains uncertain who was responsible.
Wolfgang said it would be a misunderstanding to associate the resolution with the Jan. 23 incident because he planned to write the resolution before it happened.
“What happened the first day of school was not what we wanted,” Wolfgang said.
Following the Orlando nightclub shooting June 12, Wolfgang was part of organizing memorial efforts for the victims. Part of his idea for the memorial activities included requesting that a pride flag fly on Prexy’s Pasture — a request that was denied, Wolfgang said. This led to the idea of drafting legislation that would call for the pride flag to be flown on campus for a variety of reasons, he said.
“It’s not just the aftermath of Orlando,” Wolfgang said. “With Laramie’s past history of LGBTQ hate crimes, et cetera, we thought it would be a great way to show solidarity.”
Though it was complete before spring semester began, Wolfgang said he waited to submit the resolution to create separation between the Jan. 23 incident and his proposal.
UW undergrad Isacc Roque said he saw the pride flag flying in place of the American flag Jan. 23. He said his opinions do not represent for any branch of the military, but he is currently serving in the National Guard.
When he saw the pride flag, Roque said he was mad.
“The American flag is inclusive to us all,” he said. “I’m not singling them out for being LGBT. It’s just you guys don’t think the American flag is inclusive enough and you need to fly a flag over the American flag, that’s how you want to make your issues known? That’s not the right way to do that because what you’ve done is spat in the face of Americans who fought for that flag and (you’re) saying your sacrifice wasn’t good enough for me.”
The original draft of the resolution was vague as to whether the pride flag would replace the American flag, Wolfgang said. To clarify the intent, he recommended amendments making it clear the pride flag would fly below the flags on Prexie’s Pasture daily.
“Clearly, I made a mistake in not clarifying where the flag was going to be flown,” he said. “But I never thought it would be interpreted that way, where the pride flag would replace the American flag.”
Even with the amendments, Roque said he wouldn’t support flying the pride flag on Prexie’s Pasture. The LGBT community shouldn’t have any special attention other groups wouldn’t, he said.
“In my personal opinion … they have gotten way out of control with their social movement, and it needs to be placed in check,” Roque said. “I feel like (the gay rights movement) has made quite a bit of social progress, so why do we need (the pride flag) on the flag pole? I don’t think that flag represents me as a straight person, either.”
During the open forum portion of Tuesday’s ASUW meeting, Roque said he didn’t buy that there is no correlation between the Jan. 23 incident and the resolution. He also called on people in the room to condemn the Jan. 23 incident.
“Shame on you if you do not speak out against this incident,” Roque said.
Wolfgang said he’s communicated to UW’s Physical Plant that he would be open to finding another location on campus to fly the pride flag in June.
“We’re more than willing to have it flown somewhere else on campus,” he said.
Roque said he couldn’t comment as to whether he’d oppose flying the pride flag at an alternative location to Prexy’s Pasture.