BOHEMIA, NY — Members of the Connetquot community are taking action against the school board, one month after the district banned hanging Pride flags in classrooms.
A Change.org petition titled “Connetquot School District: Reverse Pride Flag Banwhich garnered nearly 1,300 signatures, will be presented to the board by parents, students, and members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community Tuesday at 780 Ocean Ave in Bohemia.
Advocates will also organize a flag planting and peaceful protest at 3pm, at the same time as the handover.
“LGBTQ+ people are among the most marginalized groups in the United States, bar none in New York and Connetquot,” the petition description read. “LGBTQ+ students have often reported Connetquot Schools as an unsafe and unwelcoming environment for them, but noble people within the district have sought to change this reputation and ensure that Connetquot is truly safe and welcoming for all students, regardless of his sexual orientation.
The action comes weeks after more than 600 students, families, the Connetquot Teachers Association and community members demonstrated against Connetquot School District’s ban on Progress Pride flags in the classrooms
A Progress Pride flag has a five-color chevron in addition to the classic rainbow flag and includes black and brown stripes to represent marginalized LGBTQ+ communities of color. It also has pink, light blue, and white colors, to represent the Transgender Pride flag.
Governor Kathy Hochul later headed the State Division of Human Rights to investigate the district’s actions.
At last month’s meeting, board president Jackie Napolitano-Furno testified to an auditorium full of community members that a student reported feeling uncomfortable seeing the Progress Pride flag in teacher Sarah’s classroom. ecke.
The classroom also had a Pride flag.
Ecke, was asked to pledge to keep the rainbow flag up, Napolitano-Furno said, but he removed the Pride of Progress flag. When she refused, the district enacted Policy 1310 “providing that school employees shall not engage in political activity” on school property.
All flags except the American flag and the New York state flag have been ordered removed, the district said.
“The district strives to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for all,” Napolitano-Furno said. “We recognize that the decision to unilaterally implement the flag display policy has received mixed reactions. We hope you understand that it was not taken lightly, not without the full consideration of all involved, and not with ill-intent.”
However, the petition criticized the board’s president, Jackie Napolitano-Furno.
@longislandpatch Gov. Kathy Hochul has ordered an investigation into the Connetquot Central School District after a teacher was barred from hanging a Progress Pride flag in her classroom. #big Island #longislandnewyork #longislandpatch #patch #connectquotcentralschooldistrict #connetquothighschool #oakdalebohimehigh school #redlgbt #lgbtq #lgbt🌈 #lgbtqi #lgbtqia #lgbtqtiktok #gobernadorhochul ♬ original sound – longislandpatch
“For her, supporting LGBTQ+ students, who face high rates of suicide and depression, was unacceptable and political,” the description read. “Unfortunately, this pressure led the Superintendent to issue a directive to ban educators from displaying Pride flags. This is a sham.”
The district came under fire recently in September, when was placed on PEN America’s banned books list.
Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer: A Memoir” is in circulation in the district, but requires parental permission to borrow. According to its website, PEN America defines a permission slip requirement as a prohibition.
“We demand that the policy be reversed and that the Progress Pride flag be allowed to hang again in Connetquot schools,” the petition description read, “ensuring that students feel at least a modicum of support in a place that should be the safest for them.”
Patch has reached out to the Connetquot School District for comment.
To read the petition, Click here.