According to officials, students at a middle school near Boston revolted against Pride Month celebrations and vandalized rainbow decorations.
The incident unfolded when the school’s Spectrum Club, supporting LGBT students, initiated Pride Month festivities by distributing rainbow stickers, displaying Pride signs, and encouraging their peers to wear rainbow attire.
Students encouraged to join Pride Month celebrations
Teachers at Marshall Simonds Middle School in Burlington encouraged students to support the student group on June 2 as part of the Pride Month celebrations.
However, some students refused to participate and instead tore down the rainbow decorations, donned patriotic colors, and chanted “U.S.A.”
School administrators characterized these actions as displays of “intolerance and homophobia.”
Teacher, administrators voice concern over students’ intimidation
Diana Marcus, a computer science teacher, noted that the protesting students had intimidated participants in the Pride celebration.
A letter from school administrators to parents echoed this sentiment, “Over the course of the day, you could actually see a reduction in the number of students walking around in rainbow-colored clothing.
“It was really tough; those students were not feeling supported.”
Principal apologizes to affected students, affirms support,
Principal Cari Perchase, a supporter of the gay and transgender community at the school, expressed her apologies to the affected students, stating, “I stand in solidarity and support of the members of the LGBTQ community who were impacted by these events.”
Superintendent Eric Conti emphasized the importance of taking a stand against homophobia and identity-directed hate actions, calling upon staff, teachers, and Burlington Public School community members to join the effort.
School Committee addresses clash, concerns of intolerance
The clash prompted a School Committee meeting on June 13 to address the situation.
Nancy Bonassera, co-chair of the Burlington Equity Coalition and a parent of a student at the school, decried the student revolt during a town select board meeting on June 12.
Bonassera described the incident as “displays of intolerance and homophobia,” emphasizing that such actions are unacceptable and affect the entire community.
Bonassera demands the ‘reinstatement’ of DEI
She demanded consequences for the protesting students and saw the incident as an opportunity for the town to promote inclusivity and equality.
Bonassera also urged the reinstatement of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) subcommittee in Massachusetts and the appointment of a DEI policy director.
This position has remained vacant for a year.
Carl Foss expresses shock, sadness over school demonstration
Former School Committee member Carl Foss expressed his shock and sadness regarding the children’s demonstration, stating, “Some may argue that the incidents are a school’s problem.”
“To that, I would say it runs deeper. This type of intolerant rhetoric starts in the home.”
School administration mete out undisclosed disciplinary actions on protesters
The Select Board Chair, Mike Runyan, assured attendees at the meeting that the school administration was treating the matter seriously and collaborating with the town to investigate the situation.
The disciplinary actions taken against the students involved remain undisclosed at present.
Governor Healy voices disappointment about the incident
Governor Maura Healey, Massachusetts’ lesbian governor, expressed her disappointment with the incident but assured administrators would promptly address it.
Healey saw the incident as a teachable moment for the young people involved, stating, “It doesn’t represent who we are as a state.”
She reaffirmed the state’s commitment to ensuring the well-being and protection of the LGBTQ+ community.