December 10, 2018
As you know, last week at Birch Meadow School, we investigated an incident of hate speech – graffiti written in a bathroom at school. In the process of that investigation some other examples of hate speech (written and spoken) were discovered. This is saddening and distressing to our community. I do not believe that the children who are saying and writing these words and slogans intend to cause harm or realize the impact that their language has on members of our community. However, if we do not address this language then these children will not learn that their language does have an impact on others and that this impact is harmful.
A concern has been raised that by publicly talking about these acts, we are giving attention to them which is rewarding the behavior with attention, something the student or students are seeking. Research has shown that hate speech, if ignored, becomes part of the group culture and becomes sanctioned. Even if the speech is not intended as hateful (and in the case of elementary students I don’t believe it is), the result of ignoring it is harmful to the community. For this reason, we can’t ignore it when it happens.
Talks about race, equity, and inclusion are hard for all of us. Below are some resources that will help you in these conversations with your children.
-Julia Hendrix, Principal
Table Talk: Family Conversation about Current Events from the Anti-Defamation League