High school students protest Pelham Manor board’s refusal to fly Pride flag

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Twenty teenagers adorned in rainbow stood on the sidewalk across from Pelham Manor Village Hall as a thunderstorm loomed overhead on Tuesday afternoon, calling out, “What do we want? Pride flag! When do we want it? Now!”

This protest is a part of a push for the Village of Pelham Manor to fly the gay pride flag for the month of June. Two petitions have been created for the cause.

“It was frustrating to read Mayor Lapey’s email responding to our petition that completely ignores the 215 Pelham students who signed it,” said Natalie Pursel, one of the protest organizers. “We came out here to show that flying the Pride flag still matters and that we actually support our friends, family and neighbors by flying our own flags. Why can’t the board of trustees do the same?”

The Pelham Manor Board of Trustees responded to the issue, stating in an email that “Pelham Manor is a welcoming, inclusive community. The village proudly supports and stands in solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community.” The email went on to cite “longstanding policy of flying only the U.S. and Village of Pelham Manor flags” as reason for not flying the Pride flag, a matter on which they stated they have had outside council.

This policy has been challenged by Aartie Manansingh and Steve Salee, who wrote in a letter to the editor “the Village of Pelham Manor can choose to fly a Pride flag on its flagpole. It is choosing not to do so, based on a ‘longstanding policy’ that apparently is not written down anywhere.”

Both the protesters and the community members cited the flying of pride flags by the Village of Pelham, Town of Pelham, City of Rye and Westchester County.

“We’re here because the Manor says that they support the LGBT community yet they refuse to fly the flag,” said Audrey Leung, a Pelham Memorial High School sophomore present at the demonstration. “As members of the LGBTQ+ community we do not feel supported.”

State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi also issued a statement on June 4 in response to the issue. “I am disappointed that in 2021, the Village of Pelham Manor has refused to display a rainbow flag in honor of Pride Month this June,” said Biaggi.