Locals protest LGBTQ+ flag hanging outside Biloxi VA Medical Center

The VA says the flag that is missing will be replaced on Tuesday.
Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 7:49 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Protesters joined forces in front of the Biloxi VA Medical Center on Monday to speak up against an LGBTQ+ flag that hangs outside the front gate.

The VA put the two rainbow flags on display alongside American flags on June 1 to commemorate Pride Month. A letter from Mississippi’s Congressional leaders is asking the Veterans Affairs secretary to take down the flags, saying they promote a political statement.

Vietnam War veteran Richard Boyanton was among the protesters. He says it’s wrong for an American Flag to be replaced with an LGBTQ+ flag.

“I can’t imagine that people would think this is alright,” Boyanton said. “We don’t need a flag for each nationality or each different group of people. The American flag represents everyone.”

The other flag that hung on the east side of the entrance was removed twice by someone outside of the VA’s organization.

“We’re completely discouraged that someone took the avenue of vandalism to express their concerns and beliefs,” said Shaun Shenk, the VA’s chief of community and public affairs.

VA leaders say 1 million veterans nationwide identify as LGBTQ+.

Shenk says the organization’s goal is to create a more welcoming environment for veterans while providing them with good health care.

“Veterans fought for the right to demonstrate the freedom of speech, and VA supports that,” he said. “The point of VA is to take care of those exact veterans and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that we’re providing pathways for all veterans through all diversities.”

Boyanton said he and his fellow protesters won’t stop until the flags are no more.

Read the Mississippi Congressional Delegation’s full letter to VA Secretary McDonough here>> https://bit.ly/3CjCKp7

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