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School board, police investigating reports that Mississauga students burned Pride flag on video

Last Updated Jun 10, 2021 at 9:54 pm EDT

The Peel District School Board (PDSB) and Peel Regional Police have launched investigations after a video surfaced appearing to show students from a Mississauga school burning a Pride flag.

During the brief video, people can be heard laughing while the flag goes up in flames.

A news tip sent to CityNews alleged that two students at Cawthra Park Secondary School recorded the burning of the flag and sent the video to members of the school’s LGBTQ2S+ community.

Peel police say they are investigating the incident as “hate-motivated.”

In a statement to CityNews the school board said it is aware of the video, and denounced the actions of those involved.

“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,” the board wrote.

“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.”

It’s not yet clear if the students involved have been identified.

Recent Cawthra Park graduate, Thomas Cappadocia, is a gay man who was sent the video.

“It was burned on school ground, by students, sent to another student and that student was threatened,” Cappadocia told 680 NEWS.

“Nobody cares about the flag itself, a piece of fabric. It’s about the message that’s being sent.”

Cappadocia says he recognizes the spot on the grounds of Cawthra Park secondary where the school was burned.

 

Peel Regional Police Const. Akhil Mooken wants all impacted people to know this is being investigated fully.

“Especially given that it’s Pride Month, we want to make sure the LGBTQ2S+ community understands that this is not something that we’re sitting idly by on.”

Mooken says it was the school board that contacted Peel police about the incident back on June 8.

The PDSB adds that it “is committed to dismantling systemic homophobia, transphobia, and oppression as a foundation for student achievement and wellbeing. Cawthra Park students and staff who require wellness support have been encouraged to reach out to the school guidance department and/or the school administration.”

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce commented on the video Thursday, calling it “disturbing, unacceptable and contrary to our commitment to inclusivity for all students.”


RELATED: Police looking for 3 suspects after man beaten in homophobic attack at Toronto Islands


In a separate incident, Toronto police say they are investigating reports that a man was followed and taunted with homophobic slurs before being badly beaten on the Toronto Island on Saturday.

Three suspects are being sought in the case and the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks confirmed they have suspended player Chris Larsen after he was identified as one of the alleged attackers.

In a statement Thursday, the CFL said it condemned the violence but was awaiting the outcome of an investigation.

Both the alleged assault and the flag burning come during Pride Month in Toronto.


With files from 680 NEWS reporter Mark Douglas

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