Mill Valley equity committee holds first ever Pride event

The Mill Valley Parent Teacher Student Association’s (PTSA) Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee organized a pride event on May 30, the first ever from the committee.

Tamalpais High School’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) also helped coordinate the event and provided volunteers. Many other Mill Valley organizations helped organize the event, such as the Mill Valley Middle School (MVMS) Gender and Sexuality Alliance; Kiddo, an organization that fundraises for the Mill Valley School District; It Takes A Village, which advocates for students with learning disabilities in Mill Valley; and the city government of Mill Valley. 

“Our goal was to bring the community together through a fun event honoring our district families, friends, and community members who either identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community or as allies,” Mary Michael Pringle, PTSA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Chairman and a member of the planning team, said.

MVMS GSA members

The event took place at the Mill Valley Community Center after a flag-raising held at Mill Valley Middle School. Further events were held throughout the day, including a wishing tree, where attendees put their wishes on hearts to hang on a tree, and a silent disco featuring music from LGBTQ+ artists. Several BIPOC-owned food trucks were brought in as well, providing attendees with a celebratory dinner.

The event also served to educate Mill Valley residents about the LGBTQ+ community. The aforementioned flag raising specifically used the Progressive Pride Flag and plans to share the meaning behind the flag. Sasha Luzato and Anna Egli, two MVMS GSA members, helped carefully (and temporarily) remove the school’s California flag and hook the Progress flag onto the mast. They kept their eyes glued upward as they tugged the rope to hoist the new flag into the wind. It joined the American flag positioned above it, the rainbow of colors illuminated by the bright sky behind it. For a moment, no one spoke and everyone watched, too entranced to look away.

“The pride flag serves as a symbol of the LGBTQ+ community. It is a visual reminder of the struggles and oppression that people have faced and continue to face, but it is also a sign of hope, connection, belonging, and support,” eighth grader and co-president of the MVMS GSA Gigi Cannelora said.

Flag ceremony at MVMS

In addition, tables were set up with resources for LGBTQ+ youth and adults. A trailblazer wall was set up featuring notable members of the LGBTQ+ community, offering educational pamphlets. 

“We would love to see each of you there to support the work of bringing the community together through a fun event honoring our district families, friends, and community members who either identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community or as allies,” one of the event organizers, George Rosenfield, wrote in an email before the event. 

Tam High’s GSA was also involved in the event. Volunteers from the club helped run the event and a booth made specifically for the club. 

“We had a booth where we talked about our club and explained what Tam GSA was,” GSA co-president Zoe Neal said.

Tam High GSA members

The event is the first of its kind in Mill Valley because of a recent action by the Mill Valley city government to proclaim June as Pride Month. This support was followed by Mill Valley schools naming June ‘Be Who You Are’ Month, which was also the slogan of the recent pride event. Signs with the slogan can be spotted in schools and pride flags are being hoisted up schools’ flagpoles across Mill Valley.

DEI’s pride event took advantage of this progress, assembling a 70-person volunteer team back in March. The group gathered support from the community and other various groups.

“We provided coverage in a lot of different areas, people showed up in a big way and took on unique responsibilities to plan the event,” Rosenfield said. 

The event received plenty of support and positive feedback from the Mill Valley community. The event hosted several hundred attendees and a variety of LGBTQ+ speakers. 

“It was really well organized, they had a lot of LGBTQ+ speakers at the event, and there was a lot of good education [about the LGBTQ+ community],” Neal said.

The event organizers were also happy with how the event turned out. Months of planning came together in a big way.

Primary indoor event space

“It went amazing, we got a lot of tremendous outreach from parents, teachers, and volunteers,” Rosenfield said. “The words we are hearing were ‘it was magical, it was amazing’, so much love and care went into it.

This event was the first of its kind in Mill Valley and it will not be the last. The Mill Valley community showed incredible support for the LGBTQ+ community, with over 400 community members in attendance.

“[Next for Mill Valley is] living up to the LGBTQ+ resolutions we passed, the Progress flags we fly, and the rainbow steps we walk on, and not let them be superficial symbols but daily motivators for treating each other with empathy and respect,” Pringle said. “The hope is that we, as a community, will continue to do whatever it takes to accept — and celebrate — each other for who we are.”