City Council to recognize June as Pride Month, local LGBTQ community shares excitement

Students who stopped by the Honor Quad Tuesday afternoon were treated to songs by vocalists from the student-run record label Hipified Records, as well as carnival games like “Queer pong” and “Ace in the Hole” that awarded participants prizes. Brennon Dixon/The Signal

The Santa Clarita City Council is expected to recognize June as Pride Month, drawing praise from the local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or LGBTQ, community, and prompting members of one support group to call the move “a big step forward.”

Formal recognition is scheduled for the next council meeting Tuesday, June 25, City Communications Manager Carrie Lujan confirmed.

Councilman Bill Miranda asked his fellow council members at the City Council meeting Tuesday to honor the LGBTQ community with an “LGBTQ Pride Month” proclamation.

“Santa Clarita’s a very diverse community,” he said. “We have in the past honored Black History Month in February or Hispanic Heritage Month in September; we’ve honored Filipino Heritage Month.”   

Invited to receive the recognition on behalf of the local community are representatives of PFLAG Santa Clarita, one of 400 chapters of the national organization, which provides support to people who are LGBTQ and their families and friends. PFLAG stands for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

“This is a big step forward,” said Jeffrey Stabile, who co-founded PFLAG Santa Clarita with his wife, Peggy, 31 years ago. “The city has recently been very supportive. Last year, they presented us with a certificate of appreciation for 30 years, and now we’re very pleased to hear about the proclamation.”

But 31 years ago, that wasn’t the case, he added. Jeffery recalled a protest in Valencia on Oct. 12, 1988, that brought out hundreds of demonstrators to rally against Project 10, a Los Angeles Unified School District support program for gay high schoolers, which now offers education and support services for the LGBTQ students.

“At the rally, the president of one of our schools’ PTOs emphatically declared that her son, a 12-year product of our valley schools, had never had a gay student in any of his classes,” said Peggy in a 2018 editorial for The Signal.

After the 1988 protest, the couple believed there was a lack of education about the topic and decided to start PFLAG Santa Clarita.

Since that time, other LGBTQ support groups have emerged across the Santa Clarita Valley, including Queer SCV, GSAs, or gay-straight alliances, at all local high and middle schools and College of the Canyons, and Child and Family Center youth-oriented programs.

Businesses across the area have also publicly displayed their support during Pride Month. For example, Princess Cruises has changed its corporate logo to reflect the Pride rainbow, and Westfield Valencia Town Center is set to raise a Pride flag next week.

While support for the LGBTQ community has increased in the SCV, there’s room for improvement, said Jeffery.

Santa Clarita earned mostly poor scores in a 2018 equity index that looks at laws and practices related to the LGBTQ community among cities across the U.S., which is conducted by the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ advocacy group. The city earned 64 points out of a possible 100 points, whereas the state’s average score is 77.   

Jeffery said he would like to see the city partner with local organizations to hold workshops and forums.

“We would love to have a dialogue with everyone on both sides of the spectrum and it would be nice for the city to help bring awareness,” he said.

PFLAG Santa Clarita and Queer SCV are set to host a free Pride Month event this year on Saturday, June 22 from noon to 4 p.m. at Dr. Richard Rioux Park in Stevenson Ranch.  

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