A 16-year-old student in Scotland has been told that he cannot wear a Pride badge because it “promotes” homosexuality. The student, who wishes to remain anonymous, told PinkNews that after attending Edinburgh Pride during the weekend he returned to school with a small Pride badge on his uniform.
The circular badge is smaller than a £2 coin and has a heart with rainbow stripes. However, St. Kentigern’s Academy in Blackburn, West Lothian told the student that he could not wear the badge. The teen told us that the instructions came to him on behalf of the head teacher, Mr Sharkey. He was not initially told why he could not wear the badge and grew to be upset. “I was given no reason why, then after I got upset about it I was told by the teacher who told me to take it off that the school had no problem’ with me being gay, but however I’m promoting’ it by wearing the badge,” the teen said.
He explained that he refused to take the badge off. “I told them that I was refusing to take it off which was fed back to the head teacher. I was then told by another senior member of staff, who I had a really good dialogue with, the exact same thing.”
The school’s uniform policy states that students must not wear jewellery which could be seen to: encourage rivalry, cause offence, damage flooring, promote a message contrary to the values of the school of the council, carry advertising or could be used as a weapon.
The student told PinkNews that it was not unusual for people in the school to wear badges, with the school often providing badges for student roles.
He explained that he had hoped to wear the badge there because it was one of the few places he felt he could safely express his sexuality as he has not yet come out to his family.
Despite the school displaying posters promoting “love, faith, equality, inclusiveness, hope and respect”, the student was told that he did not need a badge to display his Pride. “I was told by the senior staff member that the school was okay with my sexuality, I just can’t promote it’. “I said to her that I wore the badge because it was the only place where I feel safe about my sexuality and she told me you don’t need to wear a badge for that’.”
The whole situation has left the student feeling uncomfortable in his school. “I feel shocked by the whole thing as well as scared as I no longer feel comfortable going to school. “I feel I am going into a place where there’s homophobia from staff members. Which feels much more scarier than when I encountered the same from other pupils,” he explained. The student added that he hopes policy surrounding LGBT issues will be revisited to avoid similar mishaps in the future.
“I feel there is a lack of understanding of what I am wearing, its significance, what it stands for, as well as what it doesn’t stand for,” he added. A West Lothian Council spokesperson told PinkNews: “Pupils at St Kentigern’s are asked to remove all non-school related badges from their uniforms.
“West Lothian Council is committed to equal rights for LGBT people and is the main supporter of West Lothian Pride. We are also a Stonewall Diversity Champion for our work to promote inclusivity.”