Pajaro Valley Unified School District Harvey milk day pride flag raising
Students, staff and others of the Pajaro Valley Unified School District take part in the third annual raising of the LGBTQ+ flag at the PVUSD Towers Monday. Photo: Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

More than 200 people gathered Monday for the Third Annual Harvey Milk Day/Progress Flag Raising event at the Pajaro Valley Unified School District Office.

The event took place on Harvey Milk Day. Milk was a prominent gay rights activist who was assassinated on May 22, 1978 in San Francisco. 

PVUSD Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez told the crowd she was proud of the large attendance and stressed the importance of fostering understanding of one another, standing up to bullying and living without fear of being your true, authentic self. 

“Every student deserves to feel safe and sometimes they don’t get that at home or in the community, but we ensure this happens in school,” said Chrissy McClean, coordinator of PVUSD counseling programs, who headed up the event.

“I remember our very first raising of the flag—it was such a small group of people. And now look at how many people are here. It exemplifies our belief as a significant role not only as members but also allies of the LGBTQ community,” Rodriguez said. “Harvey Milk was a pioneer in the LGBTQ rights movement. He showed us that our voices matter, regardless of our age, our role or our background, he believed in the power of everyone, including all of our young people today.”

Mark/Ajax Mendoza, an eighth-grader from Lakeview Middle School, told the crowd: “There’s not very much support around but seeing everybody here makes me happy and knowing that I have support makes me want to stand up for everybody. I hope you guys know that we are all in this together and we will keep rising over the years; this just makes me really happy.” 

After several student speeches the gathering then joined in singing the song “True Colors” made popular by singer Cyndi Lauper before raising the rainbow flag skyward. 

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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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