Doyle says Pride flags “always welcome” on campus despite previous discouragement from secretary’s office

Several members of the college community have demanded a formal apology for the “poor excuses” made by the secretary’s office

Provost Linda Doyle has said that Pride flags “are always welcome” in Trinity following controversy over the discouragement of a senior member of staff from hanging them on campus.

In a statement on Twitter, Doyle said: “Just to be 100% clear: we will celebrate Pride to the fullest in Trinity this year. Pride flags are always welcome!

“LGBTQI+ rights are Human Rights” she continued. “We will always advocate for this.”

Doyle also revealed that the College Board agreed to fly the Pride flag over campus for the “first time ever”.

Doyle’s tweet was in response to a Times Ireland article that revealed a senior member of staff was discouraged by College from hanging Pride flags on windows around campus.

According to the Times Ireland, a senior member of staff, who is also a member of the LGBTQ+ community, asked Trinity’s equality committee for approval to purchase Progressive Pride flags to be displayed around campus in celebration of Pride month.

The staff member wanted to hang the flags on windows in “student spaces and service areas” such as the Academic Registry (AR), the Student Counselling Services, and the sports building.

The request was sent from the equality committee to the secretary’s office of College, who said in an email that, while they cannot stop members of staff from hanging flags within their own offices, they would be “cautious” about encouraging the display of Pride flags on campus.

The email explained that “this is partly given that if this practice spreads there may be occasions where inappropriate signs/symbols are displayed”.

“We also have to be mindful of the appearance of the campus where multiple flags, signs and messages at windows could be at odds with the heritage status of the buildings.”

The email also said that the secretary’s office was “conscious” that not all members of College, such as those “from diverse cultural or faith backgrounds”, may be “as supportive of Pride in general”.

The staff member told the Times Ireland that they were “very shocked and upset” with the College’s attitude towards Pride flags.

College told the Times Ireland that “there is an established practice at Trinity that flags of any description are not, generally, displayed at windows”.

They also stated their intention to fly the Pride flag from College Green this month: “The decision to fly the Pride flag from the main College flag pole at College Green reflects our strong support, as an institution, for the LGBTQ+ members of our community and for the celebration of the Dublin Pride Festival.”

Despite College’s response and Doyle’s tweet, many members of the College community are still requesting a formal apology.

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) have brought a complaint to the Provost demanding an apology, describing the email as “a slap in the face to LGBTQ+ students [and] staff”.

They also noted that it is “shameful to use students from ‘culturally diverse backgrounds’ as scapegoats for your own homophobia”.

QSoc, College’s LGBTQ+ society, issued a statement demanding a formal apology from the secretary’s office and an “explicit rescindment” of their position.

In their statement, QSoc criticised the secretary’s office’s defence of College as a historical site: “Hanging Pride flags from windows is in no way the kind of material change to these buildings that would compromise their ‘heritage’ status.”

QSoc also noted that using “those from different cultural or faith backgrounds” as justification is a poor excuse: “Equating bigotry with different cultural and faith groups is both inaccurate and offensive to the LGBTQ+ community and to those cultures and faiths, especially to those at an intersection of these identities”

“This statement from the secretary’s office puts these identities in opposition to each other and seeks to divide those of us who have been working in Trinity to make our university more inclusive and safe for all students.”

“All of these reasons listed are poor excuses for not allowing the celebration of Pride on campus through the display of flags, something that would make LGBTQ+ students, staff and visitors alike feel more welcome.”

Outgoing TCDSU Education Officer Bev Genockey stated that: “Me, Trinity staff and students that [TCDSU] represents are not, and never will be, “offensive”. A public apology for this is needed.”

Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) President Gisèle Scanlon urged College “to work with [GSU] and [TCDSU] to create progressive policy to value our LGBTQI+ community”.

Ellen Kenny

Ellen Kenny is the current Assistant Editor of Trinity News and a Junior Sophister student of Politics and Sociology. She previously served as Features Editor