Teen allegedly suspended for opposing LGBT ‘rainbow poppy’ fights ‘fake news’ claims
STONEWALL, Manitoba, November 12, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A Rebel News report from the town of Stonewall sheds light on the alleged “fake news” rainbow poppy controversy that blew up on social media just days before Remembrance Day.
It began when Cyara Bird, a Conservative Party candidate in the recent federal election, tweeted November 6 that her 17-year-old cousin, Natalie Salisbury, had been suspended for “hate speech” after protesting the suggestion to wear a rainbow poppy.
LifeSiteNews reported the story November 7 after the Post Millennial carried an exclusive interview with Salisbury.
But Bird retracted her statement on November 8 and apologized, saying her tweet was “ill-informed,” that “more information has come to light,” and that she “was wrong.”
My statement and apology regarding the misinformation surrounding the use of rainbow poppies. pic.twitter.com/ocPqgB1ChW— Cyara Bird (@CyaraBird) November 9, 2019
The Interlake School Board also issued a statement that “at no point did any staff member of Stonewall Collegiate or Interlake School Division direct, nor mandate, any student to wear a ‘rainbow poppy.’”
Allegations that the story was “fake news” began to surface, centering on the assumed ubiquity and LGBT promotion of the rainbow poppy — which appears to be exaggerated — but overlooking Salisbury’s claim she’d been suspended for hate speech for expressing her opinion about it, a fact the board would neither confirm or deny.
However, a November 7 report by Rebel News reporter Keane Bexte from Stonewall, a town of 4,200 some 15 miles north of Winnipeg, did confirm it.
Bexte interviewed Salisbury, her father, and two students, all of whom corroborated the story she told the Post Millennial.
“It started when a few teachers and students started to try to force their beliefs and their ways of living onto us by saying we should be wearing a multi-coloured poppy,” Salisbury said.
“But I feel strongly against it, my grandfathers fought in the war, they may not have died but that had a big impact on my life.”
After she posted a flyer expressing her opinions in the school, Principal Jason Cassils and Vice Principal Bryce Baldwin suspended her for “hate speech” — which, as Bexte notes, is a crime that carries a prison sentence on conviction.
Salisbury’s poster stated in part: “You’ve got a whole month dedicated to the LGBTQ community, but the people who legitimately made a difference and died so that we could live decent lives get one day. You don’t need a poppy, you just clearly want attention. One day to celebrate the real hero’s how about we don’t make it about your sexuality for once? … If you didn’t make such a big deal about it and force people to make it a part of their lives it would be no problem.”
“It was not intended to be in any way hateful or a hate crime,” Salisbury said. “It was intended to be me voicing my opinions and beliefs.”
“She was suspended and I quote from Mr Cassil’s words, she was being suspended for ‘hate speech,’” her father, James, told Bexte.
“There’s nothing hateful in it, she’s voicing her opinion,” he added.
“Unfortunately, you’re allowed to have an opinion as long as it doesn’t offend a certain group … if it offends, you’re supposed to keep it to yourself. That’s not how I taught my daughter.”
The two students said they were part of the LGBT community but didn’t agree with Salisbury’s suspension.
“I honestly feel like we’ve been let down by the school,” said one.
“I think it’s really stupid,” said another. “No one does get suspended for bullying you just get a warning and a talk, but she got a suspension for stating her own opinion.”
They also disagreed with the idea of a rainbow poppy.
“I think the poppy should remain the red because it signifies the trouble that the veterans went through in World War I and World War 2,” said one.
“I honestly find the rainbow poppy a very stupid idea from the LGBTQ community, we are both part of it but we disagree with the rainbow poppy,” she added.
Cassils refused to comment, either on the situation or on Salisbury’s allegation that comments supporting her have been deleted from the school’s Facebook page.
The Rebel Media reporter described it as “despicable” that no mainstream media had reported on the incident. His “ProtectOurPoppies.ca” website has to date collected 27,081 signatures in support of Salisbury.
Meanwhile, Edmonton City News reported November 8 that “claims the new [rainbow] poppy is widespread are false” and that “there is no mainstream movement among the LGBTQ+ community to use them, the poppies are not mass produced and are not even available to buy in Canada.”
A National Post Remembrance Day report likewise asserted that “the LGBTQ community never did promote the rainbow poppy. And the poppy was never mass-produced — it was hysteria rooted in fake news.”
The enamel rainbow poppy typically pictured was produced by U.K. youth volunteer Julie Fearnley in 2018, who sold them on eBay, it reported.
Fearnley has now removed the listing “because of the nasty comments I was receiving and because I couldn’t get the badges to the buyers in time for remembrance weekend,” she told the National Post.