A resolution being considered by the University of Wyoming’s student government to fly a LGBT pride flag on campus is on hold — for now.
The Associated Students of the University of Wyoming, or ASUW, was scheduled to vote on a resolution during its upcoming Tuesday meeting that would allow flying a pride flag on campus. Titled “ASUW Support for LGBTQIAA+ Pride Flag Flown in Prexy’s Pasture for the Month of June,” the resolution was introduced for a first reading during ASUW’s Tuesday meeting where it was steered to a committee. The committee voted to table the resolution during its Wednesday meeting, said Chris Ryan, ASUW director of governmental affairs.
Tyler Wolfgang, ASUW vice president and the resolution’s author, said during a Monday interview the matter is not associated with an incident that occurred Jan. 23 where an unknown person or persons tied down the American flag flying over Prexy’s Pasture and flew a pride flag in its place.
One UW student, Isacc Roque, spoke out against the resolution during Tuesday’s meeting. Roque said he didn’t buy statements that there was no connection to the Jan. 23 incident.
“If you’re a member of the LGBT community, there are other ways to get your voice heard,” he said. “Shame on you if you do not speak out against this incident.”
Ryan said the decision to table the resolution was not because of concerns with its intent, but regarding problematic wording.
“They have concerns about ambiguity in the language,” he said. “The committee understands the intent … they couldn’t make the necessary amendments.”
Wolfgang recommended amendments to the resolution that made it clear the pride flag would be flown underneath the American, Wyoming and UW flags already in place on Prexy’s Pasture. Additionally, he recommended language be added that allowed for consideration of other locations on campus. But because the title included Prexy’s Pasture in the title, Ryan said the committee preferred the entire resolution be re-written.
“The Student Outreach and Policy Committee is working with Vice President Wolfgang to submit new legislation that addresses the language concerns, but shares the same intent of support,” he said. “They are planning to introduce one as soon as it’s available.”
ASUW President Michael Rotellini put out a statement Wednesday saying he understood there were concerns among some students on campus. As one of the resolution’s sponsors, he affirmed that any notion it was connected to the Jan. 23 incident was incorrect.
“This resolution was prepared before the semester began, and following the vandalism of the flag, it was withheld from submission until recently in order to avoid this connection,” Rotellini writes.
As part of memorial activities to recognize the June 12 Orlando nightclub shooting, Wolfgang said he wanted to fly on pride flag on Prexy’s Pasture, though the request was denied. He said he decided afterward to draft legislation for the spring semester, but delayed submission because of the Jan. 23 incident. June is also LGBT Pride Month, according to the Library of Congress.
“We thought it would be a great way to show solidarity, a representation of hope and inclusivity,” Wolfgang said Monday. “What happened on the first day of school was not what we wanted.”
Ryan said Thursday flying the flag during June was not only significant because of LGBT Pride Month, but because it marked the anniversary of the Orlando shooting. Introducing the bill in February was important to make sure it made its way through ASUW’s channels before the spring semester ends, he said. But Roque said he still isn’t convinced.
“The timing on this is really poor in my opinion,” Roque said. “It’s an entire month. So, if they wanted to use it for the Orlando shooting, why not propose it just for the day?”
Even if a new resolution is introduced that calls for an alternative location for flying the pride flag, Roque said he’d continue to oppose it.
“They still want to wave the flag and say, ‘We’re being oppressed and we still want to take down the American flag,’ going back to that (Jan. 23) incident,” he said. “In my opinion, (the American flag) covers every single one of us.”
Rotellini’s statement affirmed ASUW supporters’ position that the resolution, “has never, is not, and will never be intended to cause disrespect to the American flag.”
“I as the ASUW President, and Vice President Wolfgang as the author of the legislation, do not support the vandalism that took place (Jan. 23),” he writes.
To gauge students’ positions on the matter, ASUW created a survey on the Wyo-Guide mobile app. Ryan said he did not know what day the survey would close, but that no debate at ASUW would go forward until it was complete.