In response to that denial, students in Newmarket and across the York region staged a walkout in support of that flag. Those students say that they were subject to harassment by other students who were opposed to flying the flag, and antagonistic toward the all-encompassing Pride month as well.
Global News reported that a "York Catholic school protest" took "a hostile turn."
The walkout was at the Saint Brother Andre in Markham, and as students carried their Pride banner, they were followed by a group of students making fun of them. Video shows one student stomping on the trans inclusive lebian flag in orange, white, and pink colors.
The walkout, Global News reported, was "an opportunity to support 2SLGBTQ+ students." A student speaking to Global spoke about how "everyone has the right to love who they want to love."
Another student seemed to claim that not raising the Progress Pride flag was "prioritizing the comfort of the parents instead of the safety of the students."
The students who were hostile to the Pride walkout tore the banners and signs, and threw Pride paraphernalia in the streets. One student said they "threw water" and were "judging" the students who walked out in support of the Progress Pride flag.
The counter-protesters "turned violent," Global reported, when they threw "Pride bracelets" in the street "and at people."
A student wearing a KN95 mask cried and was comforted by an adult after she said "someone threw something" at her. Police reportedly investigated an assault that may have occured during the walkout, and are gathering surveillance footage.
A separate incident at Cardinal Carter Catholic High School in Aurora also reportedly turned violent. "Students said bystanders threw rocks and spit at peacefully protesting students," Newmarket Today reported, "in addition to verbal harassment, with calls like 'get run over' and 'slit your wrists.' Police were called to this scene."
Students also demanded that the Ministry of Education investigate "hate incidents" and reitterated the proposition that the Progress Pride flag be raised.
"There was a group of guys and they were more like harassing us instead of supporting us," a student said.
Another student said she wished "there was just a lot more advocacy and love right now."
PFLAG, which supports parents of LGBTQ children, put out a statement saying that the York School Board was "unsafe for 2SLGBTQ+ students," and demands that the school board be held accountable for those students who agreed with the decision not to fly the Progress Pride flag.
"If these kids are the type of culture that is creating the culture of hate and discrimination and bigotry," Tristan Coolman, a local PFLAG spokesperson, said, "at York Catholic, then the Catholic school board has an urgent need to act and to act now."
The school board brought in mental health counselors to deal with all of this.
"Additional mental health resources were brought into some schools on the day after the protest. School staff have had a number of conversations with their community to make it clear that such behaviour is unacceptable at YCDSB schools and that students are encouraged to report any information on these incidents to the administration," the board said.
"YCDSB schools have been investigating these incidents since last week," the continued. "All school-based investigations have either been completed or are close to completion."
Speaking to the CBC, Chair of the Board Frank Alexander said "Our cross and our faith is primary. And we want to have you see that, in fact, the fact that we stand out, says– or ask the question, 'what's different about your Catholic?' What's different about us is that we stand for our faith. We stand for Christ. And so when the question is asked that will be the unifying figure and hopefully we might change some hearts and some minds as a result."
The vote not to fly the flag was passed by a 6-4 vote. Hundreds of students reportedly participated in the walk out.
The Progress Pride flag combines the rainbow colors of the Pride flag with the pink, blue and white of the trans flag, as well as black and brown to signify queer black, indigenous, people of color. The flag was recently flown outside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office in Ottawa, and hung in a place of honor at Joe Biden's White House in Washington, DC.
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