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LGBTQ+ students to hold forum after vandalization of Pride flag at Paso Robles High School

A Pride flag displayed at Paso Robles High School was vandalized last month. Now, LGBTQ+ students are holding a forum to address the incident and express their concerns.

A student stole the Pride flag from a teacher’s classroom, took it to a bathroom, placed it on a toilet and defecated on it. The incident was filmed and put on the social media platform TikTok.

Anthony Overton is the principal at Paso Robles High School. He said the administration took action to discipline the students involved.

“The greatest use of our ability and Ed Code, given the violation in terms of consequences, was imposed on the students,” Overton said.

Now, a forum is planned for school officials, parents, and school board members to hear from LGBTQ+ students at the high school about the impact of the incident and their concerns moving forward.

“I know students are frustrated, and I think I want their voices to be heard. I do think there is a lot of hate in our world right now and Paso Robles is not unique to that,” Overton said.

Overton said he wants students to know that the staff of Paso Robles High School is working to create a safe, hate-free and tolerant environment.

“The incident involving the Pride flag was absolutely terrible,” Overton said. “It breaks my heart that a student would feel like they could do that.”

Michelle Call is the executive director of the GALA Pride and Diversity Center in San Luis Obispo. She said she wants LGBTQ+ students to know that GALA supports them and will be sending representatives to the forum.

“We want to hear what the students have to say and then we want to see what we can provide based on what they say they need,” Call said. “It’s really important to listen to the lived experience.”

Call said this kind of hate is not just a Paso Robles problem. She said GALA has been contacted by parents of students in other areas of San Luis Obispo County where people say they don’t feel safe.

Call said GALA is offering supportive ally training to the Paso Robles School District. They have also offered training to the San Luis Coastal Unified School district.

The forum will be held Wednesday October 20 from 6 to 8pm at the Paso Robles High School Performing Arts Center.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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