GSA’s pride flag vandalized

On April 6, 2022, a pride flag was stolen from Andrew Phillips’ first period physics class and vandalized.

According to a national study conducted by the GLSEN, 59 percent of LGBTQ+ students reported feeling unsafe at school because of their queer identity and 69 percent have been verbally harassed for their sexual identity.

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According to a national study conducted by the GLSEN, 59 percent of LGBTQ+ students reported feeling unsafe at school because of their queer identity and 69 percent have been verbally harassed for their sexual identity.

By Justin Ha, Granite Bay High School

“I think that a kind of culture at Granite Bay has been here for years. It’s just persisted for so long that it’s awful,” senior Izzy Siebum said. “I hate it so much…”

On April 6, 2022, a few days before Granite Bay High School went on break, a pride flag was stolen from Andrew Phillips’ first period physics class.

The flag, which was used during GSA (gender sexuality alliance) meetings, club rush and other events, was vandalized, peed on, allegedly burned and ultimately left in a boy’s urinal for the custodial staff to find that evening.

It was a hate crime.

“I think students here at Granite Bay are used to bigotry, homophobia (and) transphobia,” GSA adviser, Sussana Peeples said. “And I’m not gonna say that it was easy for any of them, but I don’t know that it was anything they hadn’t experienced or didn’t expect. It is a really unfortunate thing that this is not necessarily a safe place for all students.”

The Wednesday back from break, administrators, Gregory Sloan and John Pichon, visited the GSA to confirm the already spreading rumors that their flag had been vandalized.

I think students here at Granite Bay are used to bigotry, homophobia (and) transphobia.”

— Sussana Peeples

Co-president of the GSA and junior, Lee Randolph, remembers the feeling of when the news originally broke.

“When I first heard about this situation, I was mad,” Randolph said. “That flag is a symbol of everything that we’ve gone through … That flag means so much to me that I was so mad when I heard the way it was disrespected.”

According to GSA members, the guilty party was allegedly suspended for two days. Several sources in the GSA also mentioned that when the guilty party returned to school, they were greeted by a cheering class. This allegation has not been confirmed.

Siebum, who is the GSA vice president, believes that the administration is not doing enough to foster a positive culture on campus.

“It’s happened before and GSA usually is a main target … and I believe the school can do better,” Siebum said. “(We want) more vocal support …. and that people who do hateful acts towards marginalized groups and in this specific case, like LGBT groups, should have more severe punishment and not two days.”

According to a national study conducted by the GLSEN, 59 percent of LGBTQ+ students reported feeling unsafe at school because of their queer identity and 69 percent have been verbally harassed for their sexual identity.

Many GSA members say that this national culture of hate towards LGBTQ+ students has manifested at GBHS. This culture, if not addressed, is likely to resurface.

“People have gotten beat up or jumped. People have gotten threatened for all of that. People have been threatened in the bathrooms. People have had to apologize for things that they shouldn’t need to apologize for,” Randolph said. “This is just repetition and we’re not breaking the cycle. No one is doing anything to break the cycle.”

According to a survey conducted by the CDC, “47 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual teens said they had ‘seriously considered committing suicide.’”

In the past, the GSA has been the subject of multiple attacks on campus. At this year’s club rush, a picture was taken of the GSA sign up sheet in an attempt to out many of the members.

Still, there is hope for change.

“I’m not gonna sugarcoat it and say this is the best place in the world for marginalized communities, but I will say that I’m always a person that has hope that we can become more empathetic people and understand how to listen to one another how to become a better community for all for all kids,” Peeples said. “ It’s important for kids to understand that there’s a lot of teachers who really do support them.”

On May 6, a month after the original incident, Admin Designee Gregory Sloan issued an official statement.

“GBHS and the Roseville Joint Union High School District (RJUHSD) do not condone any hate action or symbols and take these matters very seriously,” Sloan said. “Following a thorough investigation, appropriate steps were taken to resolve the incident with those involved. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me personally.”

GSA members are shopping for another flag.

This story was originally published on GraniteBayToday.org on May 9, 2022.