Petition asks N.B. Government to allow schools to raise pride flag

FREDERICTON – A Leo Hayes High School student has launched a petition asking the New Brunswick government to allow schools to fly the pride flag.

With over 300 signatures by mid-Friday, Tianna Whelan’s petition says Premier David Alward sent the school an email stating they weren’t allowed to raise the pride flag “due to a law that says no non-official flags can be flown on public property.”

“I think all schools should be allowed to raise the pride flag,” Whelan said in an interview with Global News. “It’s an amazing show of tolerance and acceptance and diversity and why would you not want to send that message to your students.”

Whelan says the past two years Leo Hayes High School has raised the pride flag in front of the school in celebration of Pride Week, a week the school’s Gay Straight Alliance organizes.

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Premier David Alward says the province supports equality and inclusion, especially in it’s schools. But Alward told reporters Friday that Leo Hayes was never given special permission from the province when it flew the flag the two previous years.

“Other than when we think of the Canadian flag, the New Brunswick flag, the Acadian flag and the Union Jack flag there is not a policy in place that other flags are flown,” he said.

Stephen Alexander at AIDS New Brunswick argues the pride flag is an official flag, and the policy is “not a good message to be giving our youth.”

“The policy states non-official flags, but we all know that the rainbow flag is an official flag internationally known,” Alexander said. “I am saddened that society continues to put up barriers to celebrating diversity.”

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Whelan asked the City of Fredericton to fly the flag outside city hall in honor of Pride Week. It was raised Thursday. Fredericton’s mayor Brad Woodside told Global News he was “happy to fly the flag” on behalf of the school.

The New Brunswick legislature did raise the pride flag on Feb. 12 of this year to support gay athletes during the Sochi Olympics.

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Whelan will be turning 18 before the Sept. 22 election.

“I can vote and this means I am not going to re-elect this Premier.”