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3rd Annual Rainbow Flag Raising

Rainbow Flag at COE

The Santa Cruz County Office of Education (Santa Cruz COE) is conducting its 3rd Annual Rainbow Flag Raising ceremony on May 9 in celebration of Harvey Milk’s birthday and in support of LGBTQ+ students, families, and educators. 

Featuring student and community speakers and the raising of the Pride Progress Flag, the ceremony begins 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 9, at the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, 400 Encinal St in Santa Cruz. Special guests include Cabrillo College Trustee Adam Spickler, the first out transgender man to hold public office in California; San Lorenzo Valley Unified School Board Member Gail Levine; Diversity Center Executive Director Cheryl Fraenzl; representatives of the Santa Cruz County Board of Education; and Santa Cruz High School Student Antonio Tremblay.

Harvey Milk Day, falling each year on May 22, was designated as a day of special significance in California in 2009 by Governor Schwarzenegger. Education Code section 37222 recognizes Harvey Milk Day and encourages observance and commemoration at public schools and educational institutions. 

The community is welcome to join the Santa Cruz COE ceremony in person or via live stream on YouTube at

The wider community is encouraged to raise their own rainbow flags in some way during the week of May 8 and post a photo or video on our shared Padlet with the hashtag #SCRainbowFlag or #SCHarveyMilkDay. The Santa Cruz COE has provided curriculum activities here

The rainbow flag is a symbol of the LGBTQ+ community, which has a rich history across Santa Cruz County, California, and the nation. The idea for a symbol representing the LGBTQ+ community first began with Harvey Milk, the first out gay elected official in California, who challenged his friend, Gilbert Baker to develop the idea. Baker then created the rainbow flag. One of the first times the flag was flown was at the funeral of Milk on November 29, 1978.  Harvey Milk lived in San Francisco and publicly spoke out in support of LGBTQ+ rights. He visited Santa Cruz and other cities in October 1978 to encourage the defeat of the Briggs Initiative, also known as Proposition 6, that would have banned LGBTQ+ people from being public school teachers.


May 09 2023


10:00 am


Santa Cruz COE
400 Encinal Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060