Pride Down The Toilet

Multiple students report finding an LGBTQ pride flag shoved inside a urinal.


Anonymous Snapchat User

A screenshot of the Snapchat post which shows the pride flag in a urinal and students’ captions.

Jad Dargam, Editor-in-Chief

Restroom 3-107, infamously known as the “Taj Mahal” by students and staff, has always been characterized by its repeated vandalism, pranks, and other mischievous actions that take place inside the largest restroom in the main building. With walls lined up with urinals, sinks galore, and more toilets than could ever be used at once, the bathroom holds its place in school lore for being the bathroom where your business somehow becomes everyone else’s.

On August 19, 2022, at the end of the first full week back to school, students were interrupted from their classwork during second block to see fellow classmates reposting a picture on Snapchat; the original showing an LGBTQ pride flag in a urinal.

The post went viral school-wide, with one student captioning the picture, “Tf going on in Suncoast, 1st period just ended.”

This act of vandalism comes at a time when bullying and suicide rates for LGBTQ students have risen significantly over the last couple of years. In 2021, a study conducted by The Trevor Project found that 52 percent of middle and high school students in the United States experienced in-person or electronic bullying in the past year. The same research reported that students who were bullied were also three times more likely to commit suicide in the same year. Considering the implications that these actions have had on students, how has Suncoast’s administration held students accountable while also ensuring transparency with the community? And what are the implications of school vandalism on the majority of students who do not partake in these activities?

Administration Takes Action

Joseph Schwab, located across the hall from restroom 3-107, was one of the first to learn about the incident. A student reported the incident to Schwab, who then went to Principal Kathryn Koerner. At that point, Koerner asked law enforcement to step in, with the aid of the school’s resource officer. 

“I can’t discuss the investigation. I can tell you it was fully investigated by administration and law enforcement. So that they [The Legend readers] can know it was taken seriously and it was not taken lightly…,” Koerner stated. 

During The Legend’s interview with Koerner, she cited confidentiality policies that prohibited her from discussing more.

“That is where our conversation ends, to know that it was fully investigated and was addressed by administration and law enforcement, and it is not tolerated nor do we support those actions, and that goes completely against what this campus is trying to establish a culture where our Chargers RISE,” Koerner described. 

Both Koerner and Assistant Principal Aaron Keevey confirmed that security cameras were viewed as part of the school’s investigation; however, cameras could not identify a main suspect.   

“I know we looked at students going into the restroom, that was investigated on our campus, to try to determine who was in that bathroom, we weren’t successful at identifying anybody. We didn’t see anyone going in there with the flag. And now whoever had the flag with them, no longer has the flag on them, so that makes it very difficult to investigate,” Keevey stated. 

The School District of Palm Beach County implements punishments following a tiered system outlined in the Student Code of Conduct. “It can go as severe inappropriate activity, it could be a potential hate crime, there’s multiple actions that could be reviewed once the whole situation is or was dealt with,” Koerner explained. 

Keevey also weighed in on what disciplinary actions the student could face. This incident could be classified as a level two or three in his opinion. A review of the Discipline Guide shows that level two or three incidents can include disciplinary actions ranging from loss of privileges to out-of-school suspension. 

However, at the time of publication, whether or not a student will ever be punished by either administration or law enforcement is unlikely to ever be released to the community.

Addressing the Confusion

The atrium where multiple pride flags used to hang. Now, the school’s logo takes their place. (Jad Dargam)

Administration wants to make it clear to students that the flag seen in the photo was not school property. The student in question brought their own flag to the school in order to commit this act of vandalism.

The same day the photo went viral campus-wide, Koerner announced that three pride flags, which were showcased proudly in the main atrium of the school, had to be taken down. This came after a complaint from a student who stated that the flags were attached to the stairwell in a manner that they were being stepped on accidentally.

“What I have shared with you, the situation, as soon as it was brought to our attention, we understand that a student [who committed the vandalism] brought the flag, the flag was not one of our three flags, they were already taken down, they were stored in here [principal’s office] and now they are in the possession of Mr. Gomez [Gender-Sexuality Alliance advisor],” she explained to The Legend.

Koerner said she is currently working with the GSA to find a new location for the flags to be hung, but no final area has been decided on yet.

Students Respond

“When I first saw the image, I was honestly shocked because of how brutal it was. I can’t believe that this happened and I was really sad to see so many people posting it,” the student who first informed The Legend about the incident explained. They wish to remain anonymous for fear of retribution from their fellow classmates. 

“I would just want to ask [the person who vandalized the bathroom] why they did this and what was going through their mind when they decided to post a picture of it,” they stated. 

Sa’Nya Williams is this year’s GSA Club President. She believes that administration has not taken the appropriate actions to address homophobic behavior on campus. 

“Aside from taking down the pride flags in the atrium, I’m unaware of anything administration has done to address this. Personally, I think administration should try to find this student and punish them. This year, admin and teachers have been a lot more strict about dress code and IDs, and I think that [strictness] should extend to instances like this even more so,” Williams explained.

In the picture posted on Snapchat, a student commented saying, “this is why i’m embarrassed to be a suncoast student.” Other students echoed these statements as well after seeing the picture.  

“I would say that is extremely unacceptable, that kind of behavior here is not tolerated. We want everyone to feel comfortable and accepted here … I think more students on our campus embrace people and include people. I think that this is a very small representation of the school,” Keevey stated in response to students questioning their school.  

What is Next?

Lance the Charger signs up to be a member of the GSA Club during freshman orientation. (Suncoast GSA Club)

Even in light of recent homophobic action on campus, students from all sexualities continue to work on making Suncoast a more inclusive place for all. 

“The GSA club is working on a fundraiser to create pins with pronouns on them to make it a bit easier for everyone to respect each other’s identities,” Williams detailed.

New clubs have also started to amplify LGBTQ voices at school, of which a recent example is TransActions. The club is holding multiple service projects and fundraisers to help many transgender organizations and the community throughout the year. 

Finding a culprit is still a possibility. “Usually when someone does something like that, they don’t keep it quiet, for lack of a better word, they brag about it or say what they did. I encourage students to do what is right and report it to us so we can handle and issue consequences,” Keevey explained. 

Willams proclaimed, “We didn’t hurt you, we aren’t attacking you, we just want to spread awareness and be able to feel safe at school.”  

She expressed continued concern for the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ students. “Conversations of pride and allyship can make people uncomfortable,” Williams stated. 

Her work with the GSA Club, and now this incident, has only confirmed to her that sentiments against the LGBTQ community are deeper than what they may seem.