WRPS investigating as Pride flag burned, rocks thrown at 2SLGBTQ+ students

By Casey Taylor

Regional police are investigating after a Pride flag was burned and trampled, and rocks were thrown at 2SLGBTQ+ students at a Kitchener high school.

The incident is alleged to have happened Thursday, a day after widespread rallies calling for the elimination of 2SLGBTQ+ curriculum in Canadian schools.

“Today, staff were made aware of an incident in which a group of students burned, then trampled a Pride Flag, finally throwing it at a group of students who identify as members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community,” reads an update from Eastwood Collegiate Institute principal Ryan Hume dated Sep. 21.

“This same group of students then threw rocks at the 2SLGBTQIA+ students as they boarded their bus,” Hume said.

Waterloo Regional Police (WRPS) confirmed they are investigating a “hate-motivated” incident in the area of Weber St. E. and Jackson Ave. in Kitchener.

In a release, police said a “group of youths” aged 15-17 “damaged” a Pride flag taken from the school by “stepping on it and setting it on fire.”

Police said no students were injured.

Asked to clarify if that investigation includes allegations rocks were thrown at students, police would only say they’re looking into whether the two incidents are “connected.”

Meantime, in its letter to students and families, the school said it is taking the incident “very seriously.”

“As a result of this incident, we are reminded of the importance of educating Eastwood students about historic 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,” said Hume.

“All students, families and community members have the right to feel safe in their school environment. These types of actions will not be tolerated.”

Those sentiments were also echoed by local 2SLGBTQ+ advocates, Spectrum.

“Spectrum strongly condemns this demonstration of hate,” said a statement from Waterloo Region’s rainbow community space. “2SLGBTQIA+ youth in our community deserve safety and respect. Queer and trans people have always been here, and will always be here.”

“Waterloo Region is no place for hate [and] we call upon allies to take action to prevent hate speech and other acts of anti-2SLGBTQIA+ violence in our community.”

CityNews reached out to the Waterloo Region District School Board for comment Friday morning but, by Friday evening, received no response.

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