Pride Flag Burned at Elementary School Sparks Hate Crime Investigation


The Los Angeles Police Department has launched a hate crime investigation after an LGBTQ+ flag was burned at a California elementary school ahead of a Pride Month assembly.

The burned rainbow flag, which was placed in a plant pot outside a classroom at Saticoy Elementary School in North Hollywood, California, was discovered by school staff on the morning of May 22.

“The investigation is ongoing. It is a vandalism hate crime. The hate crime is still significant but it is a misdemeanor,” LAPD’s Valley Bureau Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton said on Saturday, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. Hamilton said that it is not clear when the flag was burned and there are currently no suspects in the case.

This incident comes amid a string of boycotts of brands that support the LGBTQ+ community, including Bud Light, which partnered with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, and Target, which critics falsely accused of marketing a “tucking-friendly” swimsuit to children amongst its Pride Month merchandise (the swimsuit was for adults, not children).

Stock image of a Pride flag. Police have launched a hate crime investigation after a Pride Flag was burned at a Californian elementary school ahead of an LGBTQ+ assembly.

The conversation has also intensified within politics. Florida lawmakers received condemnation for introducing a ban on teaching sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through to third grade. Nicknamed “Don’t Say Gay,” it was later expanded to apply to all grade levels. Other states have begun taking steps to introduce similar legislation.

North Hollywood Captain III Hamed Mohammadi told Newsweek: “LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District) Police took the report and LAPD North Hollywood is investigating it. The incident meets the elements of California Penal Code 422.55; therefore, it was categorized as a Hate Crime.”

California Penal Code 422.55 states that a hate crime is defined as “committing crimes due to the offender’s perceptions about the victim’s traits,” according to the law offices of Randy Collins’ website.

The page continued to add that the traits that are often central to the crimes include the victim’s “national origin, race or ethnic group, religious beliefs or sex lifestyle or orientation.”

The burning of the flag has been condemned on Twitter by Democratic Representative Adam Schiff of California and Third District Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath.

On Tuesday, Schiff tweeted: “I am deeply distressed by the burning of the Pride Flag at a San Fernando Valley elementary school. Every child deserves safety and acceptance. We must fight against discrimination and create an inclusive environment for all. Hate has no place in our schools and communities.”

Horvath tweeted: “Shocked and horrified that the Pride Flag would be burned in an act of hate at an elementary school in the San Fernando Valley. All of our kids deserve to feel safe and welcomed in all of our schools.”

This incident comes after a group of parents launched a social media page objecting to the school holding an assembly on June 2 that would include conversations around LGBTQ+ identities.

A post on May 22 from the Instagram page Saticoyelementaryparents called for a protest and boycott of the assembly.

“LAUSD has announced that on June 2nd school wide from K-12 students will be taught about LGBTQ+ during an assembly,” the post read. “Videos will be shown to the students including one where it says, ‘some kids have 2 mommies, some have 2 daddies.’ This has caused outrage among parents, many of them emailing/calling LAUSD high ups to complain about this day and protesting by not taking their children to school that day.”

The post noted that the area has a large population of Armenian and Hispanic families who are Christian or share conservative values and allegedly do not consider this an appropriate lesson for children.

A parent within the group protesting against the assembly told the Los Angeles Daily News that she does not believe any member of the group is responsible for the crime.

“None of us parents are aware of who the person might have been who set the flag on fire,” the parent, only identified as Ana, said. “None of us would jump the fence or set the flag on fire because we don’t want to bring that negativity to the school where our children are.”

Newsweek reached out to Saticoy Elementary School and the San Fernando Valley LGBTQ Center via email for comment.


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