OAKDALE, N.Y. (PIX11) – A school board’s decision to remove LGBTQ Pride and progress flags from its classrooms is causing quite a stir on Long Island.
Hundreds of parents, teachers and students showed up Tuesday night to protest at a Connetquot School District board meeting for enforcement of the ban in schools.
The meeting itself only lasted minutes before board members took an abrupt recess due to constant shouting and interruptions from many in the crowd. The issue drew out passionate opinions on both sides.
“They targeted the LGBT community to try and erase our existence,” LGBT Network President David Kilmnick said.
According to Connetquot district policy, school employees cannot engage in political activities on school grounds. That includes promoting personal beliefs and flags. One teacher was recently ordered to take down two Pride-related flags in their room, according to the school board, after they said some students complained.
The LGBTQ community sees this issue as a fight for their rights.
“I think it’s wrong to take down the flags,” seventh-grader Aryanna Zoeller said at the protest. “It’s like part of who you are. You shouldn’t have to be judged for it.”
About 5,370 students attend classes in the Connetquot Central School District, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Those protesting the anti-Pride flag policy say it directly discriminates against some of the students, teachers, and parents they’re supposed to represent and support.
“If you take down the Pride flag, you’re sending the message that homophobia is going to fly here, and I would have to hide myself,” eighth-grade student Eliza Erwin said.
Nearby, a smaller group of a couple dozen people rallied in favor of what the school district is doing.
“Let’s not bring politics into the school district,” parent Jennifer Locascio said.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the number of students who are enrolled in the Connetquot School District.