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King’s University College to raise Progress Pride Flag for first time

 King’s University College will raise the Progress Pride flag on June 1 to coincide with the start of Pride month. . Supplied by King's University College

London Ont.,’s King’s University College has announced plans to raise the Progress Pride Flag for the first time on June 1 to coincide with the start of Pride Month.

The Catholic university said in a statement the decision comes after consulting King’s community members as well as the school’s student council and Principal’s LGBTQ2S+ Advisory Group.

“The Progress Pride flag signifies our openness and support for those on the margins who we want to affirm are fully part of our place, which is a place for everyone,” says Dr. David Malloy, King’s principal.

“We want everybody, including members of the LGBTQ2S+ community, to know that they have a place at King’s and will be welcomed with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.”

Read more: COVID-19: What Ontario’s shortened dosage interval means for London and Middlesex County

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Pride London’s president said the move to raise the flag was a welcome gesture.

“I would also say it’s a little overdue but it’s really welcomed,” said Stephen D’Amelio. “They are trying and I think they are doing a good job to signify that they are open.”

D’Amelio said he also felt the school was taking the necessary steps to show they are inclusive and respectful of everybody.

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Christianity and Catholicism have not traditionally been welcoming towards members of the LGBTQ2 community in the past but there have been efforts to be more accepting.

In 2016, Pope Francis said, “the gay community should not be discriminated against and they should be respected.”

Read more: Pope Francis endorses same-sex civil unions

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In a statement, the university said the Pope has recently called for renewed social dialogue and called for Catholics to develop “the ability to recognize other people’s right to be themselves and to be different.”

But there is still a ways to go in the Catholic church’s acceptance of the LGBTQ2 community, D’Amelio said. In March of this year, the Vatican decreed it would not bless same-sex unions since God “cannot bless sin.”

“I think it’s certainly not to be underrepresented that people who do have a shared duality with our community and their faith have struggled with this, so I think it’s important that the university has taken the steps to identify that. Just flying the flag is a massive step forward,” D’Amelio said.

Read more: 40th Pride London Festival launches virtually

The Progress Pride flag is a combination of the traditional Pride flag with the flag representing the transgender community. The flag was designed by Daniel Quasar, a Portland, Oregon-based graphic designer who identifies as queer and non-binary.

It includes the original six full-sized background colour stripes of the Pride flag plus the addition of five half-sized stripes representing Trans individuals in light blue, light pink and white. The flag has brown to represent marginalized People of Colour and Indigenous peoples and black for those living with AIDS, those no longer living and the stigma surrounding them.

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D’Amelio said Pride London is also in the process of updating its flag from the original rainbow one to be more inclusive.

For the second year in a row, Pride London will be holding a virtual festival because of COVID-19.

The festival kicks of on July 15 and full details on the London Pride Festival can be found on the Pride London website.

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