Students say the high school has “has allowed the haters to win”. (Envato)
When students at a California school stole their teachers Pride flag, defecated on it and posted a video on TikTok, the school responded with a ban.
According to the San Luis Obispo Tribune, last month, two boys at Paso Robles High School in California posted a TikTok video in which they defecated on their science teacher’s large classroom Pride flag, before trying to flush it down the toilet.
Although the school claims it took “disciplinary action” against the boys after it was alerted to the incident by other students, it then responded by banning similar Pride flags.
On 1 October, teachers received a letter about a new policy to make sure classrooms weren’t “politicised”. It told teaching staff to remove any flags that were “alterations of the American flag”, and limited any other flags to two feet by two feet, a significantly smaller size that the flag that was stolen.
Paso Robles Joint Unified School District superintendent Curt Dubost, who sent the letter, told the publication: “We don’t want to turn it into a politicised issue where a student enters a classroom and looks up, ‘Oh, there’s a rainbow flag here, or there’s a blue lives matter flag here — that determines what the partisanship is of my teacher.’
“We think that that’s a real slippery slope. And so we continue to believe that this is a very reasonable compromise solution that allows rainbows, but within reason.”
But sophomore Eve Barajas, president of the high schools equity club, said: “It’s obviously just banning the Pride flag altogether unless you want those little mini ones. It’s a way of subtly just getting rid of it.
“Their defense was that the Pride flag may be a trigger for certain students. But if I had said that the American flag was a trigger to me, I would be treated like a terrorist.”
Queer students say the school ‘has allowed the haters to win’ with Pride flag ban
LGBT+ students and their allies at Paso Robles High School have been protesting the flag ban by drawing tiny Pride flags, which fall within the guidelines, and putting them up around the school.
In a joint op-ed for the San Luis Obispo Tribune, they wrote: “What message does this send to students?
“The flag ban means the school has allowed the haters to win, while LGBT+ students feel punished for wanting to be seen and supported.
“When you are a high school student in the LGBT+ community, you walk into every classroom and school bathroom not knowing if you’ve entered a safe space.
“You endure angry stares, hurtful comments, and relentless assaults of microaggressions that erode our mental health and self confidence. It is exhausting. It is oppressive. It is unacceptable. And so we’re coming out against hate.”
The students have organised a forum, titled “Coming Out Against Hate”, to be held at the school on 20 October.
For the first time, pupils will have an opportunity to “share their experiences and visions for a more welcoming, inclusive educational environment.”