Pride flags are flying again at two Newfoundland schools after the theft — and destruction — of their original flags on the weekend.
The thefts, from Paradise Elementary and Mount Pearl Senior High, prompted an outpouring of disappointment on social media.
Paradise Elementary principal Debbie Smith told CBC News she was upset to get a message Saturday from a teacher who said their rainbow flag — raised last week as a student initiative — was no longer atop the school's flagpole. Smith tweeted a request for help from the public in finding the missing flag, and received an email from someone who said he found the flag burned at a nearby playground.
"I was very disappointed. I didn't think it would happen, that someone would actually take down the flag and to go one step further to burn it and leave it in the playground for children to see," said Smith.
At nearby Mount Pearl Senior High School the same thing happened. The school tweeted in reply to Paradise Elementary saying its Pride flag also went missing over the weekend, with one resident saying it was found burned in a nearby tunnel.
Paradise Elementary vice-principal Gail Dyke said the public's reaction to Smith's tweet — a mixture of heartbreak and a willingness to help the school — inspired them to raise another flag.
Dyke said it also provided a teaching opportunity in Monday's classes.
"A lot of the students heard through social media this weekend, and as they came into school today there was a lot of discussions in all of the classrooms," she said.
"There was a lot of discussions in the classrooms about acceptance and why it's so important to be accepting of everybody no matter what."
Dyke said Grade 5 and 6 classes also went a step further in conducting research on Pride month.
"There's a big positive that came out of the education for the students from this," she said.
On Monday both Paradise Elementary and Mount Pearl Senior High had new Pride flags returned to the tops of their flag polls.
Paradise Elementary students also made chalk drawings of rainbows and peace signs on the sidewalk.