In a shocking display of patriotism and rebellion, hundreds of middle schoolers from Marshall Simonds Middle School in Burlington, Massachusetts, recently made a bold statement while protesting an LGBT event. Amidst chants of “My pronouns are USA!”, slogans of support for the United States, and the destruction of rainbow decorations, these brave young students sent shockwaves throughout the local community as well the liberal media.
According to Nancy Bonassera, co–chair of the Burlington Equity Coalition, the school had invited students to wear rainbow clothing on June 2nd as part of Pride Month. However, a counter–demonstration by students wearing red, white, and blue clothing and waving American flags had taken place on the same day, much to the surprise of school officials.
The incident left many in the community outraged, including Select Board member Michael Espejo, who expressed shock at the incident and admitted that he had “lost sleep over it.” Local parents and members of the LGBT community, meanwhile, attended a school committee meeting to voice their displeasure, calling for “consequences” for the students involved and arguing that “doing something publicly or within your line of vision, like wearing rainbows or flying a pride flag is not shoving it down your throat.”
While some have called for harsher punishments for the counter–protesters, Burlington School Committee Chair Martha Simon argued that they were merely “eighth graders” and should, therefore, not be held fully accountable for their actions. Simon condemned the incident but refrained from providing specifics about possible disciplinary actions.
The incident has sparked a debate over the tension between patriotism and LGBT rights in the United States. While some have argued that the student’s actions were disrespectful and out–of–line, others have pointed out that they merely made their point of view known and did not break any laws in doing so. Regardless, the incident raises questions about the current climate in the country and what forms of expression are deemed acceptable in today’s society.
For now, the students involved in the counter–protest will have to wait and see what, if any, disciplinary action is taken by the school or the community. In the meantime, the discussion over the tension between patriotism and LGBT rights continues on, but for now, it’s clear that the defiance of these middle schoolers will not soon be forgotten.