On Wednesday, June 1, Cleveland Heights Mayor Kahlil Seren led the first-ever Progress Pride Flag raising in front of Cleveland Heights City Hall to kick off Pride Month during June. Not only does the flag recognize Pride Month, it is also meant to follow the city’s tagline, “All Are Welcome Here.”
During the June 1 flag raising, Seren also announced plans to expand the city’s parental leave policies, update anti-discrimination rules, and ban conversion therapy—the practice of attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of gay or transgender people.
The eastern suburb already bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment, education and public accommodations. Rules for city construction contracts also include LGBTQ protections.
The city has also included anti-discrimination language in memorandums of understanding for development deals, according to Cleveland Heights city council president Melody Joy Hart.
“We maintain the dignity of every single human being here,” Seren said before raising the Progress Pride flag. “So that’s why I’m here. I’m here to make a display of it. We’ve got our Progress Pride flags flying.”
The Progress Pride flag was designed in 2018 by graphic designer Daniel Quasar and adds to the classic rainbow pride flag (designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker) a five-colored chevron to place a greater emphasis on inclusion and progression.
The flag includes black and brown stripes to represent marginalized LGBTQ+ communities of color, along with the colors pink, light blue and white, which are used on the Transgender Pride Flag.
Other moves in honor of Pride Month include a painted rainbow-colored crosswalk at the intersection of Kildare Road and Cedar Road in front of Cleveland Heights High School and five rainbow-colored benches that the City has installed in its five major parks.
Meanwhile, Cleveland Heights celebrated Juneteenth on Coventry Road yesterday, Sunday, June 19, after Seren raised a Juneteenth flag outside City Hall on Friday, June 17 in honor of the holiday.
The flag will fly through today, Monday, June 20 in observance of Juneteenth and all city offices and facilities will be closed today in observance of the holiday.
“We’ve declared Juneteenth an official Cleveland Heights Holiday to celebrate and reflect on this important time in Black history,” says Seren in a statement. “Black history is American history, and Juneteenth marks an important milestone in our nation’s journey toward justice.”