For the past three months, Harpswell Coastal Academy’s middle school campus in Harpswell has been flying the rainbow flag underneath the Stars and Stripes.  A student group made the request to fly it, and I agreed that it was important to do. Students generated the funds for its purchase through a bake sale, and we raised the rainbow flag up our school’s flagpole on March 11th.  It still flies there today. 

Our message and purpose for flying the rainbow flag is that we stand with LGBT+ youth and their families.  We are allies. We welcome and include the LGBT+ students among us as well as those who attend other schools and might need to know that someone is on their side.  We do this proudly and without hesitation. 

While we have had many neighbors and passers-by voice their appreciation of this, our message is not heard by everyone.  Some have unfairly questioned our patriotism and our professionalism. Some have insisted that a flag flying under the Stars and Stripes at a public school should represent everyone, which is a fair point that is worth a respectful conversation. 

We have appreciated everyone who has respectfully voiced an opinion to us on this – whether for, against, or a little of both.  That is the role that public schools need to play in our world today – a space for ideas and actions to be debated and analysed respectfully, a space to learn why different people sometimes have different ideas of what doing the right thing looks like.  

We will continue flying the rainbow flag at HCA until the last day of school this year.  Then, it (and likely other flags, too) will occasionally fly below the American Flag on the HCA flagpole.  They might fly in commemoration of one thing or in honor of another.  

Or maybe we’ll just fly our rainbow flag some days as a reminder to ourselves and to everyone who drives by our school that someone somewhere is having a better day because they know their flag is flying at HCA. 

Scott Barksdale,

Principal, Harpswell Coastal Academy