Pinellas County students suspended after schoolyard clash over Pride flags

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP/WFLA) — A schoolyard clash over rainbow Pride flags got some students suspended and others expelled from their Pinellas County middle school.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident, which took place last Friday at Seminole Middle School.

Pinellas County school district spokeswoman Isabel Mascareñas says a group of students tried to steal the gay pride flags and a tug of war ensued. A video showed at least one student dragged to the ground.

The victim’s father, Benjamin Hoffman, wonders why it took so long for anyone to step in? “Probably my biggest problem with the whole thing, is the video goes on for at least a good minute, and I never see any adult intervention,” said Hoffman. “That’s what bothered me the most. ”

Mascarenas says the district takes situations like this very seriously.

“This is not behavior that is tolerated,” said Mascarenas. “The student’s behavior on that day was inappropriate and unacceptable. They were, as we mentioned, quickly disciplined. “

Gina Duncan is the Director of Transgender Equality for Equality Florida. “It’s horrific, it’s wrong,” said Duncan. “This pattern of violence against the transgender community has been part of the rhetoric that transgender people are less than, or their life value has less meaning than other people.”

The 12-year old victim says the other children didn’t seem to care.

“They’re not upset or angry. They think it’s funny. And, I don’t know why,” said the child, who added they were saying some pretty mean things while trying to take the flag. “When they had the flag they were saying rip it, burn it, go to he…, go die. Stuff like that. “

The school’s principal is preparing a new bullying prevention program.

Rep. Charlie Crist says he hopes the students will learn from this.

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