Massachusetts middle schoolers tore down Pride decorations and chanted that their pronouns were ‘USA’ in a striking protest after they were asked to wear rainbow colors to school.
Students at Marshall Simonds Middle School in Burlington, Massachusetts, were asked to wear rainbow-colored shirts to celebrate Pride Month on June 2, but a preplanned protest broke out with students tearing up Pride flag stickers and chanting: ‘USA are my pronouns.’
Decked out in red, white and blue, the students destroyed the decorations lining the hallway the student organization Spectrum Group distributed, including a quote from American playwright Tennessee Williams, signage saying the school was a ‘safe space’ and ‘equality for everyone’ decorations.
‘I was shocked and horrified,’ Nila Almstrom, a parent of an LGBT student, said at a town hall meeting about the protest.
Parents have told local news outlets their straight-identifying students said they felt forced to participate and were ‘offended’ by the Tennessee Williams quote that reiterated that the human heart is ‘curved like a road through the mountains’ and only lines and streets can be straight.
‘My daughter just said, “You know, mom, that’s offensive to me, I am straight,”‘ Christine Steiner told WCVB. ‘Some of the kids threw the stickers on the ground. But I can only speak for my daughter, she just didn’t want to wear that to school. It’s not that she wanted to hurt anybody’s feelings.’
However, Burlington Public Schools said in a letter to parents that the district is ‘obligated to provide a safe environment for all students to feel safe, seen and respected without retaliation.’
‘I recognize that discussions and celebrations of individual identity are complex and impacted by individual values, religions, and cultural norms, the result of which may include expressions of racism, anti-religious hate, ableism, and in this case homophobia,’ Superintendent Eric Conti wrote.
‘The Burlington Public Schools believe in the individual dignity and humanity of each and every person in our community. We embrace everyone for who they are and for what they bring to our schools and larger community,’ he continued. ‘Let us all work on being kinder to each other.’
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