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What would make for a more inclusive Utah state flag? These students have some ideas

Utah More Than A Flag Project-1, West Point Jr High, April 19, 2022
Ivana Martinez
Renee Leta from Utah’s More Than A Flag project, talks to Latinos In Action students about why flags are important, April 19, 2022.

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Inside West Point Jr. High in Davis County, several students settle into their second-period class.

As they drop their backpacks at the back of the room their Latinos in Action teacher, Christofer Bradshaw, and Renee Leta from Utah’s More Than A Flag project, welcome them in.

The goal of the project is to redesign the state flag to incorporate a more inclusive picture of Utah’s population. The flag has seen some small changes over the years but this will be a complete makeover.

In 2021, a Y2 Analytics survey found that while some people said the current flag represents the state well — overall, “most Utahns surveyed either don’t believe or are unsure that the flag represents them personally.”

The project team has partnered up with community organizations to include underrepresented communities in Utah in the new redesign. They have an online survey where people can give their feedback on symbols, themes, colors and even design their own flag.

“What symbols are unique to Utah?” Leta asked the students.

“Mountains,” one kid answered. Another replied, “fry sauce.”

Utah More Than A Flag Project-2, West Point Jr High, April 19, 2022
Ivana Martinez
From left, Santiago, Destiny, Estrella and Sienna talk about the people who make up Utah and what the flag should represent, April 19, 2022.

Sienna Resinger is a ninth grader who identifies as Navajo and Japanese. Resinger said the current flag doesn't include her.

“I don't feel like some people realize that people could be shoved out of something without people realizing it,” she said. “For example, our Utah flag, it represents maybe a couple of things, but doesn't represent everyone…We need to include everybody, not just one specific, idealistic thing.”

Her redesign includes two red mountains and a purple sun in the middle of Utah’s Delicate Arch.

“The purple represents everyone because purple isn't used on any other flag,” Resinger said. “But I feel like it was just taking all the colors of every single ethnicity, and it would represent [them.] The Sun is something that represents Earth itself. I feel that it is good to have, and this arch to represent Utah as well as the mountains.”

Utah More Than A Flag Project-3, West Point Jr High, April 19, 2022
Ivana Martinez
West Point Jr. High Latinos in Action students design their own state flag. Most included Utah's mountains and the Delicate Arch, April 19, 2022.

Claudia Loayza, the community engagement coordinator for the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs, said they have been working to incorporate communities that haven’t been included before.

“We've been wanting to just be very intentional with who we're reaching out to and not just who we are reaching out to, but how we're reaching out,” Loayza said. “So part of that has to do with the messaging and the delivery.”

She said they’ve made their resources available in five other languages as well as putting up posters at places like Rancho Markets, libraries and the West Valley Mall.

“Within this effort and in the campaign that we've been dedicated to these last couple of months — we've been wanting to bring home that message that every voice and every story, every experience matters,” she said.

So far, they’ve received about 4,000 responses. The deadline to provide feedback on the state flag is April 30, 2022.

Editor’s note: Claudia Loayza is a part of KUER’s advisory board. 

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