By Nicole Chavez and Zoe Sottile, CNN
(CNN) — A high school in Vermont is working with police to investigate after a swastika was painted with feces in a gender-neutral bathroom, according to the school’s principal.
The symbol was reported at Montpelier High School on June 2, the second day of Pride Month, according to Montpelier High School Principal Jason Gingold. In a Monday statement to students and families, Gingold went into detail about the magnitude of what that symbol means and described it as “hate speech.”
“It is a purposeful act that targets specific people in our community to instill fear and send the message that they don’t belong,” he wrote.
“This is not an isolated incident. Drawing a swastika in feces in a gender-neutral bathroom is a very deliberate act that has been mirrored in schools, college campuses, and elsewhere across the country,” Gingold said. “In recent years, it has been directly used on school campuses to threaten queer and Jewish people.”
Gingold added that “the Nazi party targeted Jewish, LGBTQIA, BIPOC, immigrant, and disabled populations, as well as women and political leftists.” The swastika image “carries the weight of the violence committed against all of those communities,” he wrote.
CNN has reached out to the Montpelier Roxbury Public School District, Gingold and the Montpelier Police Department for comment.
Earlier this week, students held a moment of silence and attended a “stand up to hate” vigil in response to the incident, Gingold said in a Sunday statement.
The principal said the school is continuing to work with the Montpelier Police Department to identify the person behind the incident. He said counselors and spaces are available for “students and staff to process and connect.”
“We have more work to do to educate students and staff about cultural responsibility,” he went on in the Monday statement. “And we had a foundation built on community and relationships that broke last week and is repairable if we do the work.”
The incident happened just days before the Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization, announced a national state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people for the first time in its history. The organization cited a sharp increase in anti-LGBTQ legislation, including bans on gender-affirming care, anti-drag performance laws and “Don’t Say LGBTQ” laws.
Montpelier High School is located in north-central Vermont in Washington County.
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