Transgender pride flag burned at United Parish



A transgender pride flag was burned on the front lawn of the United Parish in Brookline, and police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

A transgender pride flag was set ablaze on the front lawn of the United Parish in Brookline at 210 Harvard St. Police are currently investigating the flag burning as a hate crime and suspect that the incident at the church occurred between 10 p.m. on Aug. 25 and 9 a.m. on Aug. 26.

Senior Pastor Kent French, the church’s fourth openly queer pastor, said he wants to welcome people of all different backgrounds. According to French, when an act of vandalism like this happens, it can be frustrating, especially when considering one’s values and beliefs.

“What I believe Jesus and the Christian faith calls us to do is to express compassion and love,” French said. “It doesn’t mean we have to accept everyone’s behavior, but it does mean we have to love the person. That’s the challenge when something like this happens.”

French said he is grateful for the town of Brookline, Brookline Police and local media outlets for their earnest and compassionate responses. However, he said he is worried about the church becoming a subject for future onslaughts.

“This is creating a lot of a temporary buzz about us, and we could become more of a target,” French said. “This allows other people who’ve got an ax to grind on unresolved issues to look at us and think we can be a target. So now I’m a little concerned about how I protect [the church] from any of that happening.”

Junior Caelum Dulla, a student facilitator of the Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) at the high school, said he wasn’t prepared to see something so shocking in the town.

“Brookline obviously is, by no means, perfect. Trans people have problems here, just like anywhere else. But it’s not usually aggressive. It’s often people simply having internalized biases versus this incident that is, I would say, very aggressive,” Dulla said. “It shows a lot more threat of active hatred than a lot of stuff that trans people in Brookline have had to experience.”

Junior Ezra Weintroub, another student facilitator of the GSA, said he finds the situation to be distressing to marginalized communities and emblematic of a larger problem.

“A church showing support for a group that typically churches may not necessarily be so supportive of is a pretty big deal to a lot of people. Trans people who [are] Christian might be really happy to see that they’re being represented within their community,” Weintroub said. “This [incident] shows that perhaps these places aren’t necessarily safe places for them. And it can be very worrying to a lot of people.”

According to French, one of the beautiful things about Brookline is that it is very diverse, but he acknowledges that it can also be a fragile thing.

“I think it requires all of us who value that kind of diversity and that kind of neighborliness to lean in a little bit more into honoring that, respecting that, speaking out about the importance of it and vowing to be there for one another,” French said. “We have to be vigilant. We can’t take anything for granted. It also calls us to clarify more deeply: what are we standing for and what’s our commitment to it?”

If you have noticed any suspicious activity in the neighborhood or have anything else to report, the church encouraged contacting Officer Kristin Healy, Brookline Police Department, LGBTQ+ Liaison, at [email protected].

Anti-trans sentiment has been rising steadily in recent months. If you are a student and would like support during these times, please contact [email protected].