05/23/2014 13:34 EDT | Updated 05/23/2014 13:59 EDT

New Brunswick Premier Won't Let Pride Flag Fly At School (TWEETS)

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New Brunswick Premier David Alward says the decision to disallow a high school from flying a rainbow-coloured pride flag has nothing to do with his government's feelings on gay rights.

A high school student is taking New Brunswick Premier David Alward to task after he stopped a rainbow-coloured flag from being flown outside the school during Pride Week.

Tianna Whelan of Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton has started a petition saying that, just a few days before the school planned to raise the flag, the premier sent an email saying that no unofficial flags could be displayed on government property, despite it being flown there in the previous two years.

The petition reads as follows:

"This petition (is) asking the New Brunswick government to allow schools to raise the pride flag because the safety and acceptance of children should be placed at a higher importance than a law that was forgotten about for two years. Flying the pride flag shows students, and the public, that the school is a safe and accepting place for everyone."

It had 328 signatures as of Friday afternoon.

Alward told CTV News that the policy is not a reflection of his government's attitude toward gay rights. He said the decision to prohibit the school from flying the flag came after speaking with the province's Office of Protocol, which oversees flag policy.

The province only allows public institutions to fly provincial, Acadian, Union Jack and Canadian flags, and those of visiting dignitaries, Alward said.

"It was not reflective in any way of what I stand for, what our government stands for and the work that is going on every day," he said.

Alward said this despite the fact that the New Brunswick legislature flew the pride flag during the Sochi Olympics, though it went up six days into the Games, CBC News reported.

The pride flag is also flying at Fredericton city hall.

Whelan isn't the only one criticizing Alward for the decision. Kelly Lamrock, a former Liberal cabinet minister and now an NDP candidate in Fredericton South in this year's provincial election, slammed the decision in a series of tweets.

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