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McHenry considering policy that could bar flying Pride flag on county buildings

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Equality Illinois is calling on the McHenry County Board to reject a policy that would limit what flags can be flown on county property, including the LGBTQ Pride flag.

The Northwest Herald reported that last week a board committee approved a resolution that would limit flag displays at county buildings to five flags: the American flag, state of Illinois flag, county flag, National League of POW/MIA Families flag and Military Order of the Purple Heart flag. The committee voted 6-2. The full board could vote on the policy on Aug. 17.

“There has been some push back with some flags displayed in the past and we have not had a uniform policy,” board member Jeff Thorsen (R-Crystal Lake) told the newspaper. He said that flying other flags would be a deviation from what governments normally fly.

According to the Herald, the resolution does not make exceptions for flags that have previously flown, like the Pride flag. The Pride flag has flown during Pride month since 2019 after a unanimous vote.

Thorsen said that county has gotten requests to fly other flags such as the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag and the W flag seen after Cubs wins.

Jessica Phillips (D-Crystal Lake), one of two board members to vote against the resolution and the first out LGBTQ person on the board, said the resolution is an insult to the community.

“I think it’s an [insult] to me and the community I represent,” Phillips during the vote, according to the Herald. “It’s a pride thing, they’re proud of being a member of the gay community, proud to have that flag flown. To see that flag flown at a government building is something I don’t quite think you guys understand.”

On Wednesday, Equality Illinois voiced its opposition to the resolution.

“LGBTQ people live everywhere in Illinois – in every village, city, and county – from Woodstock to Cairo, Quincy to Danville,” said Mike Ziri, Director of Public Policy at Equality Illinois. “Flying the Pride flag sends the unmistakable message to LGBTQ constituents that the community and elected officials see, welcome, and affirm them. This is especially crucial for LGBTQ youth, who experience higher rates of substance abuse, bullying, and suicide attempts because of social stigmatization and rejection. Flying the Pride flag can save lives.”

Correction: We have updated the story to say that it was a board committee that passed the resolution with a possible full board vote later in August. We regret the error.

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