Education

Queer students feel ‘betrayed’ after Cambridge college bans Pride flag

Lily Wakefield February 5, 2022
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Cambridge university's Gonville and Caius college flying the Progress Pride flag on 1 February, 2021

Cambridge university's Gonville and Caius college flying the Progress Pride flag on 1 February, 2021. (Twitter/ CaiusCollege)

To mark the beginning of LGBT+ History Month, the University of Cambridge’s Gonville and Caius College flew the Progress Pride flag. One day later, they banned it.

For the last six years the college, one of the wealthiest at the University of Cambridge, has flown Pride flags from its flagpole, and this LGBT+ History Month seemed to be no different.

The college posted a video to its social media showing the “Progress Pride flag flying above Caius to mark the first day of LGBT History Month”.

But on Wednesday (2 February), a general meeting was held by fellows, who make up the college’s governing body and are responsible for changing statutes, where members voted to ban the flying of any flag other than the college banner.

In a statement, Cambridge’s Gonville and Caius College said: “The college flag is a symbol which unites all in the Caius community. Choosing to fly only the college flag avoids concerns regarding political neutrality, and the difficulty of choosing between the plurality of good causes for which a flag could be flown.

“Flags flown to express opinions about causes and issues, have the potential to divide us. All of us are Caians, so the college flag speaks for all of us. No other flag does.”

Students have been left feeling “betrayed”, with one tweeting: “Not proud to be a Caian today after hearing that the college will no longer fly the Progress flag due to an excuse that it is a ‘political statement’.”

The PhD student who raised the flag for LGBT+ History Month also took to Twitter, writing: “Bitterly disappointed to hear that, just a day after I raised the progress pride flag above
Gonville and Caius College, a general meeting consisting exclusively of fellows voted to ensure this will not happen again.

“They try to justify this as not wanting to make a ‘political statement’, which is an implicit admission that the fellowship considers LGBTQ+ equality a political stance and not a fundamental right.”

In a statement the Gonville and Caius College master Professor Pippa Rogerson, said: “Gonville and Caius College remains firmly committed to making college a place where everyone feels welcome, and where everyone can thrive.

“It is incumbent on us all to make changes to improve diversity and eradicate discrimination and we are working as a community at Caius to support and boost representation.”

PinkNews has approached the University of Cambridge for comment.

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