By Kathy Chouteau
About 50 community members gathered at the front gate of Mira Vista School in East Richmond Heights on Sunday to celebrate what a parent organizer called the first LGBTQIA rainbow flag raising at a K-8 school in the West Contra Costa Unified School District.
The raising of the Progressive Rainbow Flag — which includes black/brown and transgender representative colors — on the school flagpole happened in advance of Sunday’s June Pride month event, which also served to celebrate the successes of the parent-run Mira Vista LGBTQIA Families and Allies Group.
The event was organized by parents Amber Avalos and K.J. Dahlaw (both use they/them/their pronouns), who three years ago established the LGBTQIA advocacy group to raise LGBTQIA visibility on campus and support LGBTQIA families and students. The group says its successful advocacy for flying the rainbow flag on the school flagpole during June is another step forward in their efforts.
In other successes, Avalos and Dahlaw said their group successfully advocated for a non-gendered bathroom on campus, for providing professional development training for Mira Vista staff to support LGBTQIA youth, and for the launch of a “Unicorns Unite” gathering for 4-6 graders, during which Dahlaw has focused on creative movement and building community one time per week.
Avalos spoke Sunday about the importance of celebrating and discussing Pride and its history—such as a time when it was illegal to be openly gay or to congregate and the LGBTQIA trailblazers who fought for their rights—and then led attendees in a call and response. Group cheers included, “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it,” and “black trans lives matter,” the latter of which youth and adult attendees alike had also written in chalk in large, bold, colorful letters on the street.
“Why do we call this out?” Avalos said regarding yet another call, “out of the closet and into the streets.” “Because…we cannot fight this battle alone, we need all of us, all of us together to accomplish these goals,” they said. Later, Dahlaw emphasized that still today, amid 17 anti-LGBTQIA laws being enacted nationwide during 2021, “we have a lot of work to do,” and underscored the importance of their allies.
Cupcakes and bubbles, along with Pride flags distributed by Mira Vista 3rd grade teacher, Rachel McLachlan, added to the celebration Sunday.
Ongoing goals for Mira Vista’s LGBTQIA Families and Allies Group, per its founders, include advocating for more inclusive pronouns in curriculum/school communications that better represent trans/non-binary students, launching a LGBTQIA Kids Club, providing sexual education for 5th, 6th and 7th graders that’s LGBTQIA-inclusive and providing school students and families with increased LGBTQIA resources—to name a few.