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CARLSBAD, Calif. — Dozens of students at Carlsbad High School staged a walkout Tuesday morning in protest over Carlsbad Unified School District’s refusal to fly the Pride flag at its headquarters during Pride month.

“I felt that it was an attack to LGBTQ+ students in Carlsbad, and all-around the district, for them to try to push back voting to raise the flag, and they made excuse after excuse saying, ‘oh, well, we have to consult with legal team,'” one student told FOX 5.

The vote, they say, was announced last-minute and without district-wide input. It comes after controversy erupted last week in the district when a video surfaced of Carlsbad High School Assistant Principal Ethan Williams speaking to members of his church about the district’s Strategic Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging plan. 

“It shouldn’t be as big of a deal as it is for someone who is a grown man, who has a job at the school, I find it almost pathetic that something that is just this simple — raising a flag for one month — to show support for a whole group of students, and he’s not capable of doing that because it’s him personally, he thinks that it shouldn’t be like that,” another student said.

But other students, like junior Carter Low, says while he supports his LGBT+ classmates, he does not want the curriculum changed and he supports Williams.     

“He chose his First Amendment right to speak and he spoke freely, and I believe what he says is true and I think that it’s the way it should be, as far as the way that the curriculum should not be gendered,” Low said.

But for LGBT+ students who say they have suffered, a small gesture like raising the flag speaks volumes for their very existence.

“It’s constant belittlement,” sophomore Luken Oyarbide said to FOX 5. “It’s people telling you   aren’t who you know you are.”

And he says Williams’ actions should be considered a violation of the separation of church and state.

“I have no problem with your religion. It’s just that there is some point that you cannot force it on people who don’t believe in it.”

FOX 5 reached out to the school district but had not heard back at time of publish.