Students at Massachusetts School Revolt Against Gay Pride Celebrations


Students at a middle school near Boston revolted against Pride Month celebrations and destroyed rainbow decorations, according to school officials.

The incident was sparked after the school’s Spectrum club for LGBT students celebrated the beginning of Pride Month by distributing rainbow stickers, plastering Pride signs, and by telling their peers to wear rainbow clothing, the Boston Globe reported.

Children attending Marshall Simonds Middle School in Burlington were encouraged by their teachers to support the student group, on June 2, in celebration of Pride Month, Boston 25 News reported.

However, some students refused and instead tore down the rainbow decorations, wore patriotic colors, and chanted that “U.S.A.” was their pronoun, in what school administrators called a display of “intolerance and homophobia.”

Computer science teacher Diana Marcus told BCAT News that the protesting students had intimidated participants in the Pride celebration, which was similar to what school administrators said in a letter to parents.

“Over the course of the day, you could actually see a reduction in the number of students walking around in rainbow-colored clothing. It was really tough,” Marcus said.

“Middle school students pick up on all this stuff. They may seem socially unaware, but our most vulnerable students are very aware of the situation around them. It was very clear that those students were not feeling supported.”

Principal Cari Perchase, who is a supporter of the gay and transgender community at the school, told students that she was “truly sorry that a day meant for you to celebrate your identity turned into a day of intolerance” and that “I want to publicly state that I stand in solidarity and support of the members of the LGBTQ community who were impacted by these events.”

“We ask all staff, teachers, and members of the Burlington Public School community to join us in taking a stand against homophobia and identity-directed hateful actions,” Superintendent Eric Conti wrote in a letter to the community.

A School Committee meeting was held on June 13 to discuss the clash.

LGBT Activist Call for Rebel Students to Face Punishment

Nancy Bonassera, a co-chair of the Burlington Equity Coalition,  who said she is a parent of one of the kids at the school, complained about the student revolt at the town’s select board meeting on June 12.

“On that same day, there was a counter-demonstration in response to what should have been a day to celebrate. Students wore red, white and blue clothing, chanted ‘my pronouns are USA,’ and destroyed rainbow decorations at the school,” said Bonassera.

“These displays of intolerance and homophobia are unacceptable and impact the whole community,” she added.

Bonassera demanded that school administrators “provide consequences” and punish the protesting children and declared the incident an opportunity for the town to promote inclusivity and equality.

She also requested that the Massachusetts town reinstate the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion subcommittee and appoint a director of DEI policy, which has been open for a year.

“We also believe that without any direct and concrete action, these incidents will occur again and increase in severity,” said the activist mother.

Former School Committee member Carl Foss said he was “shocked and saddened” at the children’s demonstration and that he, “thought Burlington was a safer place than Texas or Florida.”

“Obviously, I was wrong,” Foss added. “Some may argue that the incidents are a school’s problem. To that, I would say it runs deeper. This type of intolerant rhetoric starts in the home.”

Select Board Chair Mike Runyan told the meeting attendees that the school administration was taking the matter seriously and was working with the town to investigate.

So far, it is unknown whether any students have been punished in connection to the protest.

Town Board Calls for DEI Policies to Be Instated

Meanwhile, Select Board member Michael Espejo told CBS Boston that a “bad light has been cast over our town” and claimed that he was traumatized by the event at the school.

“I was very upset. I’ve lost sleep over it,” Espejo said and added, “it kind of shocked me to my core. I didn’t think something like that could happen in Burlington.”

He also called for the reinstatement of the defunct DEI subcommittee and said that a “professional” be placed at its helm to “lead us in the endeavor.”

Gov. Maura Healey, Massachusetts’ lesbian governor, told Boston 25 News that she was disappointed by what happened at the school but that administrators would immediately address it.

“I hope it becomes a teaching moment for the young people who were involved in that,” Healey said and that “it doesn’t represent who we are as a state.”

Healey said that the state of Massachusetts will work to ensure that “members of the LGBTQ+ community, young and old, are seen, are heard, are respected and will be cared for and protected.”