The Anglophone East School District confirms a rainbow flag, widely recognized as a symbol of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans community, was taken off the wall of a Grade 8 class at Marshview Middle School in Sackville by vice principal Gordie Kline on Monday.
Superintendent Gregg Ingersoll said the flag was transferred to a classroom where the school’s new Respect and Diversity Club will be meeting.
The flag will now be moved back again, but Stacey Merrigan, mother of a Grade 8 student at the school, isn’t satisfied with the reasoning behind the original move or with how it was handled.
“There’s certainly enough resources that they could have (the flag) in more than one place, so to me that didn’t fly with me as an explanation.”
While her son wasn’t in the class to see the flag being taken down, Merrigan feels rumours do as much damage as the act.
“When students hear that the flag has been taken down it definitely sends a message to them that there’s something wrong with being OK with LGBT communities or that there are only certain places where they can express that part of their identity if they wanted to or they chose.”
With no explanation given to the students, Merrigan said, rumours spread that the flag was removed because of a complaint by a homophobic parent.
The students “are still trying to figure out who they are and what they believe in, so every small movement by an administrator can mean something different to every student.”
The school district said one complaint about the flag was received but it was not the reason the flag was removed. Gregg Ingersoll said removing pride flags is not district policy.
He said he has spoken with vice-principal Kline and the flag will be put back.
The CBC requested to speak to Kline but the district did not make him available.
Stacey Merrigan is pleased the school and the district are open to speaking about LGBTQ rights. She said she’s offered to volunteer with the Respect and Diversity Club and she’ll happily pay for pride flags out of her own pocket and give them to the school if there aren’t enough to go around.
CREDIT: Tori Weldon