Some students at Marshall Simonds Middle School in Burlington were accused of organizing a protest against a school-approved spirit day celebrating Pride Month, which encouraged students to wear rainbow colors, earlier this month. The event was led by the Spectrum Club, an LGBT club for students and “allies.” In response, some students reportedly wore only red, white, and blue colored clothing and chanted, “U.S.A. are my pronouns,” and took down LGBT-themed banners and stickers.
“These displays of intolerance and homophobia are unacceptable and impact the whole community,” said Burlington Equity Coalition co-Chair Nancy Bonassera at a community meeting about the incident. “We challenge Burlington town leadership to take an active stand against hate under the guise of ‘free expression.'”
School officials are in panic mode over kids revolting against “Pride Day”
Kids refused to wear colors and some even chanted that their pronouns are USA pic.twitter.com/xuNBlMCrdq
— End Wokeness (@EndWokeness) June 13, 2023
While some parents were upset by the display, others said it was offensive for the school to urge children to wear rainbow-themed clothing.
“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,” Christine Steiner told WCBV.
Two days after the incident, which occurred on June 2, Burlington Public Schools Superintendent Eric Conti sent a letter to parents condemning the students who protested and noting that event participation was optional.
“We recognize that intolerance can manifest in many different ways, and unfortunately our school community experienced intolerance during the school day on Friday. Students who participate in the Spectrum Club led a celebration of National Pride Month that included posters in support of identity pride, and other symbols of LGBTQ+ identity such as rainbow flags and clothing,” Conti wrote.
Some signs and posters in the school included messages like “Why it’s not ok to say ‘That’s so gay,’” and “Happy Pride Month.”
“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,” Conti’s letter continued.
He encouraged the community to take “a stand against homophobia” and said he would continue to make the school system a “place where anyone can feel safe and welcome.”
Principal Cari Perchase also apologized to the parents and students, saying the Pride event turned into a “day of intolerance.” She added that the school would likely implement a program to teach students about tolerance and acceptance.