Middle school students in Burlington, Massachusetts came out to reject educators’ pushing them to participate in an LGBT event on Friday, June 2, prompting school officials to denounce the teens for “intolerance.”
The administration of Marshall Simonds Middle School encouraged students to wear rainbow colors and face paint for the Pride Day activity, which made many students uncomfortable and express themselves by dressing red, white, and blue, discard LGBT-themed stickers and posters prepared for the event, and chant “my pronouns are USA.”
The school administration and concerned locals were quick to label the students’ behavior as “unacceptable.” At a meeting of the Burlington Select Board seen in video posted to Twitter on June 13, one school official decried the “displays of intolerance and homophobia,” while another blamed parents for allowing “this type of intolerant rhetoric” that “starts in the home.”
A Burlington woman told local media that the “unruly disruption” was “organized ahead of time.”
According to the school’s principal, the discontent may have been in reaction to Marshall Simonds’ failure to recognize Memorial Day, which fell on May 29. An apology was later issued by the school to address the oversight.
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Burlington has a population of around 24,000 and is located in north-central Massachusetts.
‘The nature of these events’
The Burlington Public Schools superintendent released a written statement on June 4 saying that the students had the freedom to express their political, cultural, and religious views, but condemned the students for a litany of “-isms,” including “hateful” expressions.
The statement also complained that some students “glared intimidatingly at faculty members showing pride.”
Though stressing that participation in the LGBT activities were non-mandatory, the superintendent’s statement pressed for more pro-LGBT instruction, saying that “it is not enough to publicly denounce these incidents as they happen” and that it was necessary to “educate our community on the nature of these events.”
One parent whose child felt coerced to participate in the LGBT activity, told local media, “I can only speak for my daughter. She didn’t want to wear that to school.”