- Associated Press - Monday, June 20, 2016

ST. LOUIS (AP) - St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay says the city is sending a message of inclusiveness by raising a transgender flag at City Hall.

The pink, light blue and white flag was raised Monday, making St. Louis one of only a handful of cities to fly the transgender flag. It is being raised as part of Pride month and will remain in place through June. Another transgender flag was raised at a second city office building a couple of blocks away.

“It’s a message we’re sending that the city is welcoming to everyone regardless of who you love or how you identify yourself,” said Slay, a Democrat.

The idea was proposed by PROMO, which advocates in Missouri for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/28K4xDI ) reported.

Transgender issues have been widely debated in the U.S. in the past few months, and President Barack Obama’s administration has directed public schools to allow transgender students use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

Jaimie Hileman watched as the transgender flag rose to a spot just below the American flag.

“It’s a symbol that the intent of the city of St. Louis is for inclusion and equality for all LGBT people,” said Hileman, co-executive director of Metro Trans Umbrella Group. “It’s a very visible and tangible symbol.”

Rainbow flags, symbolizing gay pride, also are to be hung on the city flag poles. The flags will be visible as the city’s PrideFest kicks off downtown this weekend, including a parade down Market Street on Sunday.

Kelly Hamilton, board president of PROMO and co-founder of EQ, a new publication focusing on the tech startup scene in St. Louis, said the symbols are important in demonstrating inclusion.

“The next generation is not going to want to live in a city that is not welcome to everybody,” Hamilton said.


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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