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A Utah high school has gone viral after students were filmed cheering at a classmate who cut down an LGBTQ Pride flag.
Students at Ridgeline High School in Millville, Utah, encouraged the student to remove the flag, which was hanging alongside flags from different nations in the school’s commons.
The Pride flag had been displayed as part of Ridgeline’s Diversity Week, ahead of a meeting of a number of area gay-straight alliances at the school, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
“It was put up specifically for that event,” Cache County School District spokesperson Tim Smith told the Tribune. “And neither the school nor the school district condones the insensitive and disrespectful removal of the flag, which was done without permission.”
In the video, which was shared by students on social media, a male student can be seen using a tool — what looks like a knife — to cut down the flag.
The other students cheer and encourage him, with one shouting, “Hurry the fuck up!”
When the flag is eventually cut free and falls, the students start to cheer.
This is disgusting and heartbreaking. The amount of kids cheering when the Pride flag gets cut down is sickening. Embarrassing moment for Utahns and Ridgeline High School. Be better. 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ #ridgelinehighschool pic.twitter.com/zD1zrr7ZuD
— Jackie B (@golfgirly78) April 14, 2021
The video drew widespread backlash, with people branding it “nasty,” “sickening,” and “shameful.”
“My heart hurts for the members of the student body and faculty who feel unsafe and ridiculed in your school,” one person wrote on Ridgeline’s Facebook page.
Another added: “You’ve gravely misunderstood ‘diversity’ if you’re letting kids rip down LGBTQ flags. You guys have made every queer or questioning student in your school feel UNSAFE.”
Smith said the school would support LGBTQ students who were scared by the flag cutting, saying they had been “talking to those students this morning to make sure they feel OK and like it’s a good environment for them to return to.”
Former teacher Susie Augenstein told the Tribune that an LGBTQ student had reached out to her and said that the flag cutting “felt like a direct message that our student body does not support or respect us.”
Another student contacted the Herald Journal saying they felt “attacked, and I know others do too.”
“Neither the school nor the school district condones the insensitive and disrespectful removal of the flag, which was done without permission,” the school district said in a statement. “In fact, this took place during Ridgeline’s Diversity Week, which is held with the intention to create awareness and celebrate the diversity of students, as well as increase inclusion among the Ridgeline student body.”
The district said the flag removal “reminds us of the importance of continually educating students, not just during a Diversity Week, on the importance of respecting one another and the right to attend school, participate in events, and learn in a safe and respectful school environment.”
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