Pride display at Powhatan school sparks debate

Pride display at school causes controversy

POWHATAN, VA (WWBT) - An LGBTQ Pride display at a Powhatan school sparked debate among students and community members on social media.

The Multicultural Student Association at Powhatan Middle School hung several flags Monday in order to celebrate pride month and raise awareness.

“The display included the LGBTQ flag, the Asexual flag, Equality flag and several other flags that represent the LGBTQ+ community, along with some history,” Alexander Campbell, a member of the organization, said. “We were promoting the idea that while people may have personal beliefs about the LGBTQ community, they cannot judge, attack and bully people for who they are.”

But the display garnered mixed reactions at the school, leaving some students disgusted with what they saw and heard.

“They’ve just been chanting different lines like ‘gay is not OK,’” said eighth-grader Kendall Humphreys. “A lot of people brought American flags and they were waving them. There were kids wearing shirts that said, ‘straight pride month’ on them."

Pride display at Powhatan Middle School sparks debate on social media (Source: Facebook)
Pride display at Powhatan Middle School sparks debate on social media (Source: Facebook) (Source: Facebook)

Humphreys said she has friends in the LGBTQ community who were excited to see this display go up Monday.

“They were taking pictures with it,” she said. “Then when it was taken down, they were kind of discouraged.”

According to Campbell, the principal removed the display Tuesday afternoon.

The Powhatan County School Superintendent said all bulletin boards and displays inside the school were taken down in preparation of school ending next week.

“Before the display was put up, our principal told our organization that it would stay up until we got out of school,” Campbell said.

The superintendent added four parents filed complaints with the school about the display.

“I know parents around here don’t agree with the stuff, but nobody agrees with everybody,” Colby Lowery, a former student at the school, said. “That’s just the way the world works.”

Parents and people from the community commented on a Powhatan community Facebook post about the display. Many said they were proud of the middle school embracing diversity.

However, there were several people who posted against it.

“Absolutely does not belong in the school system,” one man wrote.

“This is highly inappropriate at the middle school level,” added another woman.

But Humphreys believes it does belong given what's transpired in the LGBTQ community and bullying in schools across the country.

"I think that having this is something that can show they can ask people, can ask questions because it's not something to be ashamed about," Humphreys said.

Humphreys and other students hope by the time school starts next year other students will be more open to diversity.

Copyright 2019 WWBT. All rights reserved.