Remembrance Day: Poster that got student suspended
A Canadian high school student has been suspended after refusing to wear a "disrespectful" rainbow poppy for Remembrance Day.
The rainbow poppy is a variant of the traditional red poppy worn to commemorate fallen soldiers on November 11, intended to honour the LGBTQ community.
In a post on Twitter yesterday, Cyara Bird described the incident involving her cousin Natalie, 17, a student at Stonewall Collegiate Institute in Manitoba.
I should add that the school screamed at her to stay quiet about it. This is a message sent to me from my uncle, my cousin’s father. pic.twitter.com/c1EfLfBwET— Cyara Bird (@CyaraBird) November 7, 2019
"My 17-year-old cousin was suspended today … want to know why?" wrote Ms Bird, who ran as a Conservative candidate in last month's federal elections.
"Her choir teacher was demanding that the choir wear rainbow poppies during their performance in the Remembrance Day ceremony. She and another student rejected that idea, and both were suspended for 'hate speech'."
But a reporter from Global News later said the broadcaster had "looked into" the claim and found the student was "not suspended for refusing to wear the rainbow poppy, she was suspended for putting up a poster".
The poster consisted of a series of quotes pulled from the internet criticising the rainbow poppy.
"Never seen something so disrespectful in all my days," one of the quotes said.
"What does LGBTQ have to do with the war? Red represents blood, black represents widows and loved ones, green represents land the blood was spilled on. Never change the poppy."
One quote accused the rainbow poppy proponents of undoing "centuries of blood, sweat and tears all because you needed to do the dishes".
Another said, "Keep it in your pants, nobody needs or wants to see it."
"You've got a whole month dedicated to the LGBTQ community, but the people who legitimately made a difference and died so that we could live decent lives have one day," one quote said.
"You's (sic) don't need a poppy, you just clearly just (sic) want attention. One day to remember the real hero's (sic) how about we don't make it about your sexuality for once?"
Another said, "If you didn't make such a big deal about it and force people to make it a part of their lives there would be no problems."
"I typed up papers on a computer, printed them off, and taped them up in the halls," she said. "As I was putting them up, teachers were taking them down. I watched as they took them to the office and gave them to the secretary."
She went to class but soon after was called to the principal's office, where the principal and vice principal, Jason Calissis and Bryce Baldwin, were waiting.
She said they began to yell at her.
"They accused me of hate speech and endangering the physical safety of the group of individuals (LGBT students)," she said.
"They asked me what I was thinking, and I told them everything. I said I was just voicing my beliefs and morals."
The student said she was scared by the two male administrators.
"I got to the point of almost crying but I didn't," she said. "I had to be the voice for all those families who were greatly disrespected and offended."
Natalie said she tried to record the conversation but they snatched her phone away. She was suspended until after Remembrance Day.
"So I asked why? Why am I being suspended and punished for expressing my feelings?" she said.
"And they said everybody is entitled to their own beliefs, opinions, and way of life. So I asked, why am I not?"
(2/3) Stonewall Collegiate or Interlake School Division direct, nor mandate, any student to wear a 'rainbow poppy'. The Board of Trustees will not comment on matters regarding individual students so as to maintain confidentiality for those involved.— Interlake School Division (@interlakesd) November 7, 2019
In a statement on Twitter, the school authorities slammed the "misinformation which has been widely spread on social media".
"We will share that at no point did any staff member of Stonewall Collegiate or Interlake School Division direct, nor mandate, any student to wear a 'rainbow poppy'," the Interlake School Division wrote.
"The Board of Trustees will not comment on matters regarding individual students so as to maintain confidentiality for those involved."