An elementary school principal in Georgia who ordered the removal of a fifth-grade student’s LGBTQ-affirming artwork was caught on video popping an assortment of rainbow-colored balloons sent to his school in support of the unnamed student.
Principal Bipul Singh and Vice-Principal Sandra Scott of Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School in Athens previously courted controversy after they had reportedly directed a teacher to remove a student's colorful drawing from a classroom bulletin board that featured the message "gay is ok" on it because it could cause conversations at home that parents might not welcome or deem appropriate. Atlanta's NBC affiliate WXIA also reports that an administrator allegedly compared hanging the gay-themed artwork on the bulletin board to hanging a Nazi flag, though it's not clear who specifically made that comparison.
Rainbow-colored balloons were then sent to the school in support of the student whose art was taken down, and surveillance footage caught Singh popping them.
“Upon seeing the balloons, Principal Singh proceeds to pop each and every balloon with force,” Jeffrey Jackson, an attorney representing the family of the unnamed child, posted to social media. “There is a video of this incident. I have seen it. It is just as bad as it sounds.”
In a call between the unnamed teacher (who initially questioned the need to take down the student's artwork) and Singh that was acquired and posted by Jackson, the principal did not object to the rainbow colors of the art, but its simple LGBTQ-affirming message “gay is ok.”
“But that picture with the words, I would encourage you to just tell her to put it in a private place, you know,” Singh told the teacher.
While Singh can be heard in the call saying the school supported the identity and expression of the student, many in the Oglethorpe community appear to be unmoved, with an online petition (that currently has over 1,600+ signatures at the time of writing) circulating calling for action against anti-LGBTQ+ bias and discrimination at the school.
"Every educator, parent, and student has a right to a safe, supportive, and inclusive learning environment," the petition reads. "The statements and actions from Singh, Scott, and others display a blatant disregard for equality and an appalling lack of humanity that makes them unfit to hold their positions of leadership and influence over any child or educator."