It was a proud moment for many in the community of Stoughton last June, when the rainbow Pride Flag was raised high above the Stoughton Central High School.
But that ended the day after the ceremony, when somebody took the flag down from the flag pole and burned it. The flag was supposed to flap proudly for one more day before being brought down.
Earlier this month, the recognition of diversity and tolerance at the school resumed, when the flag was once again raised for one day on Oct. 10.
Jessica Baumgartner, a member of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) and a Grade 10 student at the school, said the flag raising helped LGBTQ students and community members feel safe to be who they are.
About half a dozen students are involved with Stoughton’s GSA.
Once it was burned, members of the school’s GSA knew they wanted to have a flag up for one more day.
“We wanted to show support for the LGBTQ community, and to show that no matter who tries to stop this, we’re going to keep progressing and moving forward,” said Baumgartner.
A ceremony was held at the school on Oct. 10. Speakers included Laura Budd and Cole Ramsey from Moose Jaw Pride, along with Terry Vanmackelberg from Regina, who is the host of the Prairie Pride talk show that deals with LGBTQ issues.
“The speakers were great and the audience was very attentive,” Baumgartner said.
The crowd was much larger than what they expected, and Baumgartner said they had students from the GSAs in Lampman, Arcola and Fillmore in attendance.
Baumgartner hopes the school can continue to host Pride Week activities in the future.
And while the burning of the flag was unfortunate, she believes it created awareness about the need to continue to support LGBTQ students.
“Support is here, and anyone who needs it is welcome,” she said.
An RCMP investigation was launched into the burning of the flag, but no charges were laid in connection with the incident.