Peel police say they are investigating after a video began circulating online that appears to show a Pride flag being burned, allegedly by students from a Mississauga high school.
“We are aware of the video circulating on social media that shows a Pride flag being burned,” a tweet from police read Thursday. “We understand that this incident has an impact on the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and want to reassure everyone that officers from 12 Division are investigating this as a hate-motivated incident.”
Police could not confirm when the incident took place but said it came to their attention June 8.
In the nine-second video obtained anonymously by Global News, a Pride flag can be seen on the grass burning and laughter can be heard in the background. The source told Global News the incident was done by Cawthra Secondary School students on the school’s property.
Peel District School Board told Global News both it and the administration from Cawthra SS are aware of the video.
“The PDSB and Cawthra Park Secondary School condemn this hateful act of homophobia, transphobia and biphobia. We take this very seriously and have begun an investigation,” a statement read Thursday.
“We recognize the harm that actions like this cause our students, staff and families. Behaviour like this is unacceptable and will not be tolerated at Cawthra Park or at any school within the PDSB,” the statement continued.
The board said students and/or staff members who need wellness support are encouraged to reach out to the guidance department or administration.
The school’s student council also issued a statement on its Instagram saying it could not comment on the “active administrative investigation” but wanted to “condemn the hateful actions which occurred on Cawthra property.
“The invalidation of someone’s existence, someone’s human rights, should never be tolerated or go unacknowledged,” the statement continued.
Police said the police Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Bureau will connect with 2SLGBTQ+ organizations to follow up in regard to the incident.
The incidents come just days after another situation of alleged homophobia took place on the Toronto Islands Saturday night.
Toronto police said they are investigation after a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community was allegedly targeted in a homophobic attack that left him hospitalized. The Ottawa Redblacks said Wednesday night it had suspended a defensive lineman who was allegedly involved in the incident.
Advocates and scholars say the two senseless acts are disconcerting.
“We have a long way to go still, that there is a lot of hatred that continues to exist, there’s a lot of intolerance, bigotry, homophobia, heterosexism, ” said Nick Mule, the coordinator of the sexuality studies program at York University’s School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies.
“When things like this happen, we need to do a lot more to address it.”
Words echoed by advocates who say these types of attacks impact the entire 2SLGBTQ+ community.
“Anytime that you want to physically attack someone, it is an act of hate, it is in this case a hate crime and I would want our community members to know that they’re fully supported,” said Tristian Coolman, a spokesperson for PFlag York Region.
—With files from Morganne Campbell