LGBTQ+ students at Royal Bay Secondary School in Colwood, Canada, are reeling this week after a Pride flag crosswalk they recently painted was defaced with antigay slurs, TV station CHEK reports.
Students involved in the British Columbia school’s gender and sexuality association painted the crosswalk last Friday to encourage inclusiveness and diversity at their school and in the community. It was also in preparation for International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, which was observed Monday.
Then on Sunday, they found the crosswalk defaced with slurs, graphic images, and messages like “fuck gays.”
“Heartbroken. Obviously there’s no other feeling I can express right now other than heartbreak,” Sooke School District Board Chair Ravi Parmar told CHEK. “To anyone out there, if you need to go out and express your hatred, don’t do that. Don’t ruin the love and teamwork and collaboration.”
After the vandalism was discovered, several students and parents came back to repaint the crosswalk so that it would be covered up by the time classes resumed on Monday. Bystanders told the news outlet that suspects had been caught, but the Royal Canadian Mounted Police did not comment.
Colwood’s mayor, Rob Martin, said the vandalism is a sign that the community still has a way to go when it comes to inclusiveness. “It really resonates with me about how important and how symbolically important a rainbow crosswalk is, because clearly there’s still fear and there’s still hate in our community and this reinforces how we need to continue to grow,” Martin said.
While the attack may have hurt locals, they weren’t deterred and won’t be giving up. The crosswalk already has a fresh coat of paint, and students at the school are more determined than ever to make every student feel welcome and loved.