The motion proposed that King's fly the trans flag from the Gibb's Building, centreLouis Ashworth

In a meeting on Tuesday, the King’s College Council unanimously decided against a motion proposed jointly by the King’s College Student Union (KCSU) Vice President and LGBT+ officer to fly the trans flag at the end of LGBT history month on the 28th February.

The motion was presented to the King’s College Council, a group of college fellows and members of college who manage the daily business of the college and report to the King’s Governing Body.

The motion stated that the transgender flag should be flown by the college above the Gibb’s building to “raise awareness of this [the transgender] section of the LGBT community, often one that is overlooked or less well recognized in society”. It also stated that as King’s College over the past few months has been the “target of anti-LGBT and transgender protestors”, it would “send a powerful message that King’s is looking forward to the future of society in support of all people in equality.”

’The University has a large LGBT population to this day all of whom are deserving of a sign of recognition and a reiteration of acceptance… It [the flag] places a spotlight on a particular LGBT community that has experienced harassment and marginalization through history.”

Talking to Varsity, the vice-president of the KCSU, who sits in on the council, outlined the reasons the motion was rejected. They said that after the flying of the EU flag, the college were reportedly concerned with the ‘proliferation of flags’ being flown at King’s. There was also speculation that the flag was not ‘official’ enough to be flown, as there have been different variations of the trans flag.

The college was also worried that the motion was ‘reactive’ against recent anti-transgender protests around King’s, including one protestor who frequently protests on King’s Parade holding banners referencing biological sex. According to the vice-president, the council did not want to take part in action that could potentially provoke those protesting.

In response to the decision at the meeting, they said, “it was frustrating as they were saying it was too political to fly the trans flag. For us it was a symbol of solidarity, not a political statement. We were looking beyond politics to a make a statement that said everyone was accepted.”

Relating this motion to the one passed to fly the EU flag, they said: “If the college were worried about making a political statement, then why would they fly the EU flag? The EU is an official, political body, whereas this would simply have been an open statement of solidarity. It’s disappointing that one cause was deemed more worth of a symbolic flag flying than another.”

Though the college did not agree to fly the trans flag, Michael Proctor, provost of King’s College, sent an internal statement of solidarity to the members of the college, which was also sent to Varsity in response to a request for comment.

It stated: “The College has a liberal and inclusive philosophy and believes fully in the rights of all minorities to receive respect from others and the right to live without interference. It strongly deplores any manifestations of disrespect or prejudice from whatever quarter.”

Though the council rejected the proposal to fly the transgender flag, the statement did say that “’the LGBT+ flag [is] to be flown on 28 February.” In an email, the provost said that there was “no formal vote at the meeting” but rather “it was agreed that the more appropriate way of demonstrating the College’s support for Trans students would be to fly the LGBT+ flag”.

In a statement to Varsity, the KCSU LGBT+ officer said: “King’s is meant to be an open, inclusive space and this vote just shows that what goes on behind the scenes is very different from the shiny exterior that is sometimes promoted.”


Mountain View

King’s flies EU flag in solidarity with its EU staff and students

“I’d like to make clear that the Council’s decision does not represent the entire student body and that any trans or non-binary student who is either already here or thinking about applying should know that KCSU is actively putting all our power into solving this issue”, they added.

One anonymous student at King’s told Varsity: “I’m glad they took our concerns on board but the reasons they gave for flying the LGBT flag instead (eg. that the LGBT flag was ‘widely recognized and accepted’) are also true of the trans flag, so it feels like a giant cop out to refuse to support trans people specifically.”

However, despite the backlash against the council’s decision, it has prompted a discussion about the use of symbols within the college. Another student told Varsity that “although the anti-trans protests are discriminatory and unacceptable, the college has become a bit “flag-happy” recently.”

“Many people, myself included, would not recognise this flag and I’m unsure whether prioritising bits of cloth over concrete action is the best way to address the issue. We should press the fellows on more crucial matters.”