Watch: Supporters Rally after Utah Student Cuts Down School's Pride Flag

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday April 16, 2021

Students, parents, and alumni rallied outside a Utah high school the day after a student cut down a Pride flag hung in a welcoming gesture as part of a Diversity Week.

The incident took place at Ridgeline High School in Millville, Utah on April 13.

"A video of the incident shows a student standing on a concourse on the school's second level," Salt Lake Tribune reports.

"He appears to use a knife to cut the pride flag down," the article adds. "One student screams at him, 'Hurry the f--- up.' A girl standing near someone filming the action laughs."

Other reports said the student used scissors...not a knife.

The video documenting the incident was shared widely online and broadcast by local news channel ABC 4. The video shows a young man working to cut the flag down. A cheer erupts as the flag falls to the floor below.

One former teacher, Susie Augenstein, relayed to the Salt Lake Tribune that one LGBTQ student who attends Ridgeline High told her that the attack on the flag "felt like a direct message that our student body does not support or respect us."

A Ridgeline student described their feelings in an email to local newspaper Herald Journal, saying, "I feel attacked, and I know others do, too."

The email provided greater context for events that led up to the flag taking down by the student with the knife. Prior to the incident, the Pride flag had been "flipped over," the email recounted, and when a student attempted to put the flag right, "Some kids started booing" and "another student was trying to keep them from fixing the flag.

"Then, another student came and cut it off," the email said.

A rally took place outside the school April 14, local news channel KUTV reported. The rally included Ridgeline High School graduate Holden Matthews, "a member of the LGBTQ community," who told the news channel the rally would "send a really positive message.

If I could have seen this when I was in high school, it would have meant a lot," Matthews said.

Ridgeline senior Karissa Eames, whom the report said was "a member of the LGBTQ community," told KUTV that there was "a bit of a different energy" at the school after the act. "You could definitely feel the separation today."

Lauren Giddings, an alumna who graduated from the school in 2019, faulted the school's administration, telling ABC 4, "This isn't the first incident of microaggressions or of just blatant bigotry and hatred. At one point, there were confederate flags on campus and nothing was done."

Condemnation for the act of vandalism and support for LGBTQ youth was also evident online. One comment on the school's Facebook page said: "My heart hurts for the members of the student body and faculty who feel unsafe and ridiculed in your school."

The Cache County School District put out a statement in which it acknowledged that the flag had been "cut down by a student," and said that "Neither the school nor the school district condones the insensitive and disrespectful removal of the flag, which was done without permission."

To see the KUTV news clip, follow this link.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.