Santa Ana Unified votes to fly the Pride flag from its district office

A collection of Pride flags.
The Pride flag will wave from Santa Ana Unified’s office in June and October to mark Pride month and LGBTQ+ history.
(Spencer Grant)

For Santa Ana Unified School District trustee Hector Bustos, the Pride flag is personal.

During the Feb. 27 school board meeting, Bustos wore a pin on his shirt depicting the flag while recounting how he came out as gay to his friends only after graduating high school.

Bustos said he felt safe enough to do so in San Francisco where he found his community.

A product of Santa Ana public schools, he moved back to the city and came out to his family much later, at 23, less than a year before he decided to run for school board in 2022.

Unopposed, Bustos assumed office as the youngest and first openly gay elected official in Santa Ana history.


He became emotional when speaking before a vote to have Santa Ana Unified fly the Pride flag at the district’s office during Pride Month in June and again in October to commemorate LGBT History Month.

“It’s been a really, really difficult journey and so this resolution today means a lot to me,” Bustos said. “I know that it means a lot to our students right now at our school district but also to students who graduated from this school district, whether they were out or not.”

Bustos thanked community members who spoke out in support of the Pride flag during the meeting.

The Huntington Beach school now features 27 new classrooms and a STEM building, among other upgrades.

Feb. 23, 2024

“It doesn’t cost anything to be an ally,” Uyen Hoang, executive director of Viet Rainbow of Orange County, told the school board. “In order for LGBTQ students [and] educators here to believe that they can be safe, they first have to be able to see it. Seeing a Pride flag is a small but important first step.”

School Board President Carolyn Torres recounted how, as a teacher, the Pride flag displayed in her classroom served as a cue to LGBTQ+ students that they found themselves in a safe space.

“If there’s teachers in our district who want to display a flag in their classroom, [we need] to make sure administrators are ready to support those teachers,” she said. “Sometimes, folks might self-censor in fear of there being pushback.”

Trustees unanimously approved the resolution.

The Pride flag has proved a contentious issue at other Orange County school districts.

Last year, the Orange Unified School District Board of Education banned displaying the flag on district and school flag poles by a majority vote.

Bustos noted the Pride flag is more than just a piece of cloth, and he didn’t want to bring the resolution before Santa Ana Unified until commitments to LGBTQ+ students were firmly in place.

In May, the district adopted a policy in support of transgender, gender nonbinary and gender-nonconforming students. The policy provided district staff with guidance on how to affirm students’ preferred names, pronouns, bathroom access and right to privacy while transitioning.

“We can’t just celebrate our LGBTQ+ community during the month of June,” Bustos said. “We need to do more.”