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Utah school district condemns video of torn down pride flag

April 15, 2021 GMT
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Holden Matthews waves to a passerby during a rally in support of LGBTQ students at Ridgeline High School, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Millville, Utah. Students and school district officials in Utah are outraged after a high school student ripped down a pride flag to the cheers of other students during diversity week. A rally was held the following day in response to show support for the LGBTQ community. (Eli Lucero/The Herald Journal via AP)
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Holden Matthews waves to a passerby during a rally in support of LGBTQ students at Ridgeline High School, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Millville, Utah. Students and school district officials in Utah are outraged after a high school student ripped down a pride flag to the cheers of other students during diversity week. A rally was held the following day in response to show support for the LGBTQ community. (Eli Lucero/The Herald Journal via AP)

LOGAN, Utah (AP) — Students and school district officials in Utah are outraged after a high school student ripped down a pride flag to the cheers of other students during “diversity week.”

A rally was held the following day in response to show support for the LGBTQ community. About 75 parents and supporters gathered with rainbow flags on Wednesday outside Ridgeline High School in Millville, just south of Logan, as students were being let out of school for the day, The Herald Journal reported.

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Video of the pride flag being torn down was widely shared on social media. Cache County School District spokesperson Tim Smith told The Salt Lake Tribune that it was filmed Tuesday shortly before an event where the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance invited students from several neighboring schools to meet.

“Frankly I don’t feel safe being here right now,” said freshman Spencer Wilkinson, who shot one of the videos.

Wilkinson, who identifies as sexually fluid, did not go to school on Wednesday because of safety concerns, but he did attend the rally with a parent. “I think that it’s really important that I am here to show support for myself and my fellow students,” he said.

Wilkinson’s video shows a student cutting the pride flag down with scissors. Behind the flag was the national flag of Cuba. Some argued the student’s actions were justified to rectify a slight against Cuba.

Ridgeline Principal Brittany Foster said the pride flag went up quickly to welcome students from the other schools, and that there was no other place for it. Foster said the student who cut it down will face consequences but did not elaborate, citing privacy concerns.

The pride flag has since been rehung in a different section of the commons area along with all of the other diversity week flags, out of students’ reach.

Foster said a committee came up with the idea of diversity week. The committee was formed in response to some disturbing behaviors witnessed at the school.

“The purpose of the committee is to make our school a bit more inclusive because we’ve had some concerns come up specifically this year, but other years as well, that there was maybe a need to be more culturally sensitive,” she said, noting that the recent incident is not representative of the school’s culture.

“Neither the school nor the school district condones the insensitive and disrespectful removal of the flag, which was done without permission,” Smith said.