Police are investigating after a group of teenagers reportedly took a Pride flag from a Kitchener, Ont., high school, then stepped on it and set it on fire in what they call a “hate-motivated incident.”
On Thursday, a group of youths between the ages of 15 and 17 took up the flag of Eastwood Collegiate Institute (ECI), Waterloo Regional Police said Friday. Police could not say where the flag was in the school before it was removed.
They said the flag was stepped on and burned in the area of Weber Street East and Jackson Avenue, which is an intersection near the school.
No physical injuries were reported.
School board takes incident ‘very seriously’
The Region of Waterloo District School Board issued a statement Friday morning saying it was “deeply saddened and concerned.”
“We want parents, families and the broader community to know that we take this incident very seriously,” the statement said. “We would like to thank WRPS for their support and will continue to work with them and community partners to support the safety of our community.
“As a school district, we are deeply committed to the safety of our students and to creating and maintaining identity-affirming learning environments where everyone feels safe and experiences a sense of belonging. [for] all members of our community.”
The board said it would not comment further as the police investigation involves students.
Actions ‘will not be tolerated’: director
Eastwood Collegiate principal Ryan Hume sent an email to parents that was obtained by Breaking: and the school board confirmed it is authentic.
Hume said in the email that it is also possible that rocks were thrown at students who identify as LGBTQ while boarding a bus.
“I want to acknowledge that while all Eastwood students and staff may have been affected by these violent and hateful actions, they are especially harmful to members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. I want to assure all members of the ECI community “We are taking this event very seriously.”
Hume also noted that members of the school board’s critical event response team would be at the school Friday to offer support to students and staff.
“As a result of this incident, we are reminded of the importance of educating Eastwood students about historical and contemporary examples of anti-2SLGBTQIA+ hate and violence, as well as the importance of supporting all students who have been harmed by hate speech or other acts of intolerance,” Hume’s email said.
“All students, families and community members have the right to feel safe in their school environment. These types of actions will not be tolerated.”
Anyone with information related to this case is asked to call police at 519-570-9777.