Connetquot residents collect over 1,000 signatures to push for reversal of school's Pride flag ban
Community members collected over 1,000 signatures demanding a Suffolk school district reverse a ban on a Pride flag.
A Connetquot high school teacher was told by the district to take down a Progress Pride flag from her classroom wall last month.
Gov. Kathy Hochul ordered an investigation into whether Connetquot Central School District broke any laws. The Hauppauge-based LGBT Network also filed a lawsuit against the district.
Supporters made a direct plea Tuesday to the superintendent and district officials to reverse the ban on the flag.
About a dozen people gathered outside the district offices with boxes full of signatures from Connetquot residents and from allies in surrounding communities, who are demanding the district allow the Progress Pride flag to be displayed.
"We won't stop. Why? 1 in 4 LGBTQ Long Islanders have seriously considered suicide. The rates are higher for Black, Asian and low income families ... We as a community know how a ban like this, relating to historically marginalized groups, has the potential to wreak havoc on the mental health of the victims, in this case, students," says Sarah Smith, of Connetquot.
Students like senior Marissa Freeman say they used to feel safe in the school, but no longer do.
"This is my senior year, I want it to be filled with fun and joy, but how can that happen when my school is actively hurting members of the LGBTQ+ community," Freeman says.
District Superintendent Dr. Lynda Adams released a statement to News 12, saying in part, "The district respects individual personal beliefs," but added that "the classroom is not the appropriate setting to express these views - especially if they create a disruption to the educational environment."