Taste The Rainbow: Students Protest At Central vs. Catholic Game


Juniors Natalie Smith, Annie Knight, Sophie Ryall and Caroline Tackett, along with seniors CJ Fowler, Lauren Porter and Jordan Shepherd, sport rainbow apparel to show their solidarity and support for the LGBT community.

Annie Knight, staff writer

A peaceful protest went wrong at the highly anticipated Catholic vs. Central game November 3. This year was the first time Central’s long time rival, Catholic High School for Boys, had been played been played since 2013.

In light of rule 4.42.5, Gender Dysphoria (Transgenderism), passed by the Catholic Deices that reads: “If a student’s expression of gender, sexual identity, or sexuality should cause confusion or disruption at the school, or if it should mislead others, cause scandal, or have the potential for causing scandal, then the matter will first be discussed with the student and his/her parents. If the issue is not resolved to the satisfaction of the school, whose primary goal must always be to uphold catholic truths and principles, then the student may be dismissed from the school, after the parents are first given the opportunity to withdraw the student from school,” Central students decided to protest at the game.

This new rule at Catholic and all Arkansas Catholic schools prohibit students from expressing their sexuality freely and is so broad, especially with the phrase “potential for causing scandal,” that the school could expel a student on the suspicion of being LGBT.

To show Central’s acceptance of the LGBT community, draw attention to and protest this new rule, several Central students wore rainbow décor among their black and gold to the game. Rainbow bandannas, rainbow tattoos, and tie die shirts were sported among two full size gay pride flags on sticks.

When the two gay pride flags were flown from the student section, along with the senior flag, Assistant Principal Ernest McGee approached the students and told them that no flags were allowed in the student section that were not Central flags. McGee also said school rules prohibit students from bringing in banners or flag into sporting events that block the view of the game. However the gay pride flag was being flown below eye level over the railing, and there was another flag with potential to block spectators view already present.

What is a Central flag? Central time and time again has expressed its support of the LGBT community, especially when English teacher Tippi McCullough was hired after being fired form Mount St. Mary’s Academy for getting married to her partner of several years. Several clubs supporting gay rights are also active at the school including Project Town and Gay Straight Alliance.

“We brought rainbow flags to bring attention to the fact that the diocese has an official policy, that applies to all Catholic schools, which allows them to expel LGBT students,” senior CJ Fowler, who participated in the protest by bringing a rainbow flag, said.

Later in the game students converted the rainbow flags into capes. When McGee saw the capes, he threatened to suspend students if he saw them again. The school has grounds to suspend a student who is disrupting the game activities; however, these students were showing pride peacefully.

If the administration was worried that the students were “attacking” their rival, they were not. The students were protesting a rule that had been imposed on Catholic by the Deices.

We think this reprimand infringes on the fundamental rights of students. We are allowed to express our beliefs during the school day under the First Amendment, so we should be allowed to do the same thing at a football game without being shoved aside, while flags showing Central pride are allowed to fly. The administration said that a football game is not the proper venue for protest.

“Wearing rainbow was by no means an attack on the school, but an act of support for the students,” senior Madi Stephens said. “I felt as though I was following the rules of the school by not waving the flag after I was asked to stop, or breaking dress code; therefore, I thought it infringed upon my right to freedom of expression”.