'Moving forward': Pride flag raised again at Stoughton Central School after previous was torn down, burned
STOUGHTON -- A rainbow Pride flag once again flies outside Stoughton Central School, turning the page from an incident in June that saw a similar flag torn down and burned.
Grade 10 student at SCS, Jessica Baumgartner, said a school-wide ceremony to raise the flag once more held plenty of meaning.
“It really marks a moving forward within the school and community,” Baumgartner said. “I feel it was very helpful for the LGBTQ community.”
The previous flag was destroyed at the end of the school year, meaning the fall was the earliest one could be raised again.
Laura Budd with Moose Jaw Pride says it shows the students their school community remains supportive, even after June’s events.
“It’s very disheartening when we see a pride flag taken down and then we see it burnt. We don’t know where or what that message was meant to be, was it an act of vandalism, was it an act of hate, we don’t know where that comes from,” Budd said. “But we want to address it.”
The current flag is only flying until the end of Thursday. After that, the Canadian flag will take its place once again – but there are plans to raise a pride flag again next year.
Several town residents CTV News spoke with say they take issue with the flag flying instead of the Canadian one – an issue that’s partially due to the school’s lone flag pole.
“The Canadian flag takes precedence over everything,” said Pat Slater, a Stoughton resident. “People died for that flag, they did not die for special interest groups to take precedence over the Canadian flag.”
Advocates like Budd say it’s about allowing the flag to freely fly in Canada and recognizing the ability to celebrate Pride as part of the freedoms Canadians enjoy.
“They don’t have to change their beliefs, they don’t have to change their thoughts,” Budd said. “It’s just that they have to respect the person beside them and that’s all we’re asking for.”
Baumgartner feels the town has been able to take some lessons away from the backlash over the original flag’s destruction, and doesn’t see a repeat incident happening again.