Arlington Heights library trustees reaffirm decision to fly Pride flag

Arlington Heights library trustees Wednesday legally firmed up their new flag policy and confirmed their earlier decision to fly the Pride flag on the Dunton Avenue pole beginning next month.

Board President Greg Zyck said the policy revisions, approved 5-0 Wednesday night, are intended to make sure the board's decision is implemented "correctly and safely." At the start of the special board meeting, Zyck dispelled any suggestions that the board would rescind its earlier May 17 vote.

"We walked in with a flag policy, and we will walk out with a flag policy," Zyck said.

The revised language approved by the board now includes a mechanism by which flags such as the Pride flag can be flown outside the Arlington Heights Memorial Library and its Makerspace branch on Belmont Avenue.

Any of the seven members of the elected panel can bring forward a flag for consideration and vote by the entire board, and trustees are to consider whether such a flag or cause has been recognized by the federal or state governments by statute, proclamation or official communication, according to the policy.

That could include a number of national heritage or awareness months, such as Black History Month and Women's History Month.

The policy states that trustees should also consider whether a flag represents a national, state or local interest, or a positive interest or value worthy of public recognition, and is consistent with the library's mission, vision, values or official sentiments.

But the library won't fly flags at the request of any individual or organization, and use of either flagpole isn't meant to serve as a forum for free expression by the public, the policy says.

Instead, the flags approved by the board are to serve as a government forum for expression, under the policy.

That legalese follows a recent unanimous Supreme Court decision that found the city of Boston erred when it refused an activist's request to fly a Christian flag outside city hall.

But that was because Boston had allowed any number of flags to fly in years' past, and the flagpole had become a public forum, Arlington Heights library attorney Roger Ritzman told trustees Wednesday.

Ritzman said library trustees have "broad discretion" to determine what is flown on the library's flagpoles, as an exercise of government speech.

After the policy revisions were adopted, Trustee Amy Somary formally proposed that the rainbow-colored flag be hoisted at the Dunton Avenue entrance to recognize LGBTQ+ Pride Month in June. The board's unanimous approval Wednesday followed a 4-2 vote last week in which Zyck and Board Vice President Carole Medal initially opposed the policy, mostly over potential legal ramifications.

The board on Wednesday also agreed with Somary's proposal to fly the National League of Families POW/MIA Flag on Memorial Day.

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