Jallen Messersmith

Benedictine College has forced openly gay basketball player Jallen Messersmith to remove a rainbow flag he had hung in the window of his dorm room. Messersmith said the school told him the request came after one student said they felt uncomfortable. From the college’s student newspaper The Circuit:

“[Dean of students Joe Wurtz] told me that someone had seen the flag and that it had made them uncomfortable and that I needed to take it down,” Messersmith said. “I was very upset about [taking it down]. “Just because it makes one person upset doesn’t mean I should have to change the way I feel about things for one person, especially after I had [received] compliments on [the flag] that day when people were talking about it.”

Now the openly gay player on the school’s basketball team is speaking out about what he sees as an injustice.

“I hope that through this my struggle wont be someone else’s struggle,” he told Outsports two weeks ago. “If I can improve one persons life by speaking out, then I will do whatever I need to.”

Messersmith said Wurtz then changed it’s tune, saying the request came because he wanted to keep the campus clean.

“[Wurtz] started to make excuses as to why I couldn’t hang [the flag] up and they changed the story,” Messersmith told The Circuit. “My mom kept asking if it was policy or preference, and he had no clear answer on either.”

School president Stephen Minnis called the rainbow flag “a mess” because of how it might be perceived by football fans and become a – wait for it – “distraction”:

“I saw this flag, and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh’,” Minnis told The Circuit. “‘Saturday’s our big home football game, this is the opening to campus, people are going to be driving up Second Street and we got somebody hanging something in their window.’ I didn’t want [the flag] to be a distraction. … When I saw that, I saw that it was just an ugly flag sitting in the window, so that’s why I wanted to take it down.”

Benedictine College is a Roman Catholic institution located an hour northwest of Kansas City.

To read the whole story, visit The Circuit.