A student at a Utah high school was filmed ripping down a pride flag representing the LGBTQ community Tuesday that had been hanging on the second floor above the commons.
Ridgeline High School students could be heard clapping and cheering as the flag was cut down and eventually fell to the ground, prompting bursts of laughter.
Video of the incident, which has since been circulated widely on social media, was originally shared by several students privately on Snapchat, screen recordings of which have since been posted on Twitter and Facebook.
“The incident came on the second day of the school’s Diversity Week,” according to The Salt Lake Tribune. “It occurred shortly before an event where the gay-straight alliance clubs for several neighboring schools were set to meet at Ridgeline High, confirmed Cache County School District spokesperson Tim Smith.”
“It was put up specifically for that event,” Smith noted. “And neither the school nor the school district condones the insensitive and disrespectful removal of the flag, which was done without permission.”
Smith said the pride flag was meant to only be there temporarily. It was placed in a line of flags from several countries — also part of Diversity Week — next to the American flag and covering the flag from Cuba.
The video shows a student using a knife to cut the pride flag down. One student screams at him, “Hurry the f— up.” A girl standing below can be heard laughing.
After about 10 seconds, there’s loud cheering when the pride flag falls to the ground.
This is disgusting and heartbreaking. The amount of kids cheering when the Pride flag gets cut down is sickening. Embarrassing moment for Utahns and Ridgeline High School. Be better. 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ #ridgelinehighschool pic.twitter.com/zD1zrr7ZuD
— Jackie B (@golfgirly78) April 14, 2021
One person wrote anonymously in a comment on one of the videos, identifying himself as a student, saying he was “ashamed” of what happened.
“Just because you don’t support them (LGBTQ individuals) and aren’t a part of that community, doesn’t give you the right to disrespect them,” he said. “We need to all accept everyone for who they are, even if we don’t agree.”
“This felt like a direct message that our student body does not support or respect us,” one student told Susie Augenstein, a former teacher at the school. Augenstein confirmed to the Salt Lake Tribune that a queer student had sent her the video, along with the comment.
In an additional statement released to the press, Smith said, “Neither the school nor the school district condones the insensitive and disrespectful removal of the flag, which was done without permission. In fact, this took place during Ridgeline’s Diversity Week, which is held with the intention to create awareness and celebrate the diversity of students, as well as increase inclusion among the Ridgeline student body.”
“This type of incident reminds us of the importance of continually educating students, not just during a Diversity Week, on the importance of respecting one another and the right to attend school, participate in events, and learn in a safe and respectful school environment,” he further noted.