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‘It shouldn’t be tolerated’: LGBTQ display ripped down twice at Powhatan High

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 10:50 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 7, 2021 at 11:21 PM EDT
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POWHATAN Co., Va. (WWBT) - In Powhatan, there’s growing controversy over a display designed to celebrate LGBTQ History Month. A teacher put up an informational display near the cafeteria this week, only for it to be ripped down twice.

One student said his classmates are divided; some see the display as a teachable moment while others think school is the wrong time and place.

The official LGBTQ History Month website placed informational videos online to share information about 31 icons past and present who identified with or supported the LGBTQ community. When a teacher at Powhatan High School tried to do something similar, students say her display posted near the cafeteria was torn down twice. It was recorded on cell phones and shared all over social media.

“I was really disturbed to see that people vandalized school property, in addition to discriminating against a certain community,” 11th grader Alexander Campbell said. He says he got word why one student said he did it. “He was offended by the display because it did not include straight people.”

After that, a student group re-designed the display and put it back up.

“It’s something that people put their time and energy into, which is why it was even more hurtful when the student decided to take it down,” Campbell added.

Word is circulating that school officials may have made the call not to have it put back up. NBC12 is awaiting confirmation of that.

Now, parents are learning the news.

“I thought it was sad. I think children should be able to express themselves, especially in a school,” said a parent, who asked not to be identified. “I think it’s a First Amendment right, freedom of speech.”

“It shouldn’t be tolerated,” said Jamie Nolan, who runs a nonprofit called Side by Side, which works with youth who identify as LGBTQ. “They need people like that teacher and those students who are willing to put it back up, who are willing to stand up for them, be a voice for them…We all have a lot more in common than we don’t, and if you stop to listen and learn, you’ll see that.”

One of the videos shows a male student ripping down the display as other students walked by, some laughing. NBC12 reached out to the superintendent in Powhatan about this and will let you know his response.

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