An anonymous group of students and parents in Auburn, Ala., have signed a petition to have a rainbow pride flag removed from a high school classroom. The Change.org petition claims the flag is insensitive to students who do not support LGBTQ rights and compares it to the Confederate flag.
“We strongly feel that it creates a hostile and provocative learning environment for students not comfortable to openly supporting the LGBTQ+ community in a public school where students come from diverse political and religious backgrounds,” the petition states.
The flag was put up in an Auburn High School classroom to promote EDUCATE, a club that promotes diversity. The petition, addressed to the school’s principal, Shannon Pignato, argues that the flag creates “a less than ideal learning environment.”
“It is unprofessional and distracting for a teacher to be so openly displaying their political views in an unbiased and socially neutral public setting,” the petition continues.
The petition goes on to compare the rainbow pride flag to the Confederate flag.
“The signers of this petition would like for you to consider the uproar and chaos that would ensue were a teacher to hang for example a Confederate, Christian, or Heterosexual Flag in their classroom. There would likely be protests, emails from teachers, and threatening of lawsuits from parents with differing viewpoints.”
In a statement provided to NBC News, a spokesperson from Auburn High School said that no individuals have come forward to present Principal Pignato with the petition, and its creators and supporters currently remain anonymous.
“[Principal Pignato] is aware of the situation and is working with staff and students to address the concerns. While we are aware of the online petition, there is not a controversy at our school,” the statement said.
Following the original petition, a Change.org counter-petition in support of the pride flag was posted online.
“The pride flag and the [Auburn High School] Educate club has served to provide a healthy environment for our LGBT+ peers to feel comfortable being who they truly are,” the counter-petition states. “The flag represents this safe space, and frankly, the sentiment for removing the pride flag is an affront to the work that has been done nationally to fight for recognition of the community.”
At the time this article was published, the original petition had 759 supporters, while the counter-petition had 6,461.
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