Michigan students criticised for burning gay Pride flag

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A private college in Michigan, US, says it has taken “appropriate action” after two students burned a gay Pride flag on campus.

Albion College president Donna Randall said the incident took place last month when a small group of students found the flag in a bin and set fire to it.

Following a complaint, three students were identified.

One, Salaina Catalano, went to the local media to say that she had only witnessed the flag burning and did not take part.

She apologised to gay and lesbian students and told mlive.com that the students she was with were “very intimidating and manipulative people.”

Ms Randall said: “Appropriate action has been taken to address the conduct of the students involved.”

She would not give any further details, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which she said prevented her from revealing what action was taken.

The college president added: “I want to make it very clear that the college condemns harassment of any member of our college community. I personally find such behavior reprehensible and offensive.”

Some students, angered at a perceived lack of punishment for the students, set up a website to persuade alumni not to donate to the college.

According to the Michigan Messenger, Albion College is a private university associated with the Methodist Church, meaning it is not subject to the free speech protections of the First Amendment.

In a public university, the students would have their right to free speech protected.

An amendment has been proposed to the US Constitution to make “flag desecration” of the stars and stripes illegal.

The most recent attempt to ban the form of protest failed by one vote in 2006.