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Letters of Pride: Paul Degnan

MyRye.com is publishing a series of letters of support for raising the Pride flag on City flagpoles. The letters were sent to the City ahead of the City Council voting to fly the flag, and are a matter of public record.

PRIDE flag

From: Paul Degnan

Subject: Rye and pride

Date: April 25, 2021 at 10:39:09 PM EDT

To: <jcohn@ryeny.gov>, <jsouza@ryeny.gov>, <bstacks@ryeny.gov>,
<sgoddard@ryeny.gov>, <rmecca@ryeny.gov>, <ptarlow@ryeny.gov>,

I’m sure you’ve heard from many people on the RHS GSA proposal to raise a pride flag on a town flagpole this June. I write to you to express my complete and unreserved support for Rye’s LGBTQ+ kids (and adults,) and call upon you to grant this request to support our neighbors.

I wish I felt the council was showing a similar level of support for its constituents. My understanding of public service is that it is a role taken on by those who feel a responsibility to make their community a better place. I fail to see how that mission is advanced by expressing disdain and condescension for high school students who have advocated for a symbol of tolerance.

Having joined the April 21 meeting where this matter was discussed, I saw a number of members exhibiting a level of obstructiveness and mismanagement that are a far cry from any definition of good government. The council’s choice to spend up to $10,000 of taxpayer dollars to engage a law firm on the question of a flag policy was wasteful and disingenuous. The students of GSA have done their homework, and presented a number of examples of nearby towns that simply made the decision to recognize the wishes of their citizens. Those nearby towns who flew the pride flag placed the good of their LBGTQ+ residents (and the reputation of their towns) before political considerations. And they saved $10,000 in the bargain.

Unfortunately, the council’s actions are not merely tentative and expensive, but actively harmful. Their talking points, repeatedly creating an equivalence between a pride flag and the proud boys, compares a group of people trying to live a life as their true selves with a group who makes a choice to define themselves through hate and violence.

The students of the GSA researched, organized, and showed up to make their town a better place. They made their case with calm, respect and courage. They were met with a majority of council members who talked down to them and made excuses instead of taking action.

All council members proclaimed themselves personally supportive of fairness and equality. But what good is personal conviction without the integrity to take a public stand?

This council can still show the Rye community that they have the courage of their convictions. Regardless of the results of the expensive legal review, this council should vote to proudly raise the rainbow flag in front of city hall, and be worthy of the example of leadership our kids have demonstrated.

Paul Degnan
Morehead Dr


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