When school board members in Newberg, Oregon, decided to ban all displays of LGBTQ Pride, Black Lives Matter and other signs with supposed “political” meaning, a couple living on a farm nearby decided it was up to them to stand up for and support the rights and identities of impacted minority groups.
Their idea? If the students in the school couldn’t display their own rainbow or BLM signs, they would build a massive wooden Pride flag on a hill on their property that overlooks the school to show that support instead.
The Advocate’s Trudy Ring reported that “Erin and Jaybill McCarthy, who have a farm near Newberg High School, posted on social media about their plans for the flag. Many people responded by donating funds for materials, and volunteers from all over the state joined the couple on Sunday [Aug. 15] to put the flag up.”
We made the national news!!! https://t.co/QU6JXZMjnx
— Jaybill McCarthy (@JaybillMcCarthy) August 21, 2021
According to Ring, “on 17 by 30 feet of plywood, they painted a progress Pride flag, which incorporates not only the traditional rainbow colors of the flag but black and brown stripes for people of color, and pale pink, light blue, and white for transgender people. It now sits on a hill within view of the high school football field.”
In an interview with local news station KGW, the McCarthys said they opposed the idea that Pride flags and BLM signs were considered political by the school system, and the couple was driven to do something about it.
“It’s not expressing a Democratic idea or Republican idea or conservative or liberal,” Erin McCarthy said. “It’s human beings.”
First of two news stories about our flag!!! https://t.co/xxDpNHuNeB
— Jaybill McCarthy (@JaybillMcCarthy) August 17, 2021
“It’s recognition that people exist,” Jaybill McCarthy added.
Although the school board approved the ban on Aug. 10, it is still undergoing legal review and has yet to take effect.
However, should it be approved, the McCarthys said it would allow the school board to erase a whole group of people — something they didn’t feel was right. They said the flag they have created would help to keep that erasure from happening.
“We wanted maximum visibility,” Erin McCarthy said. “The result is pretty amazing; we love it. I wish it could be ten times bigger.”