US school comes back from inadequate response to homophobic leaflets
2 July 2019 - A junior high school in the USA tries to address racist and homophobic flyers that students were passing out earlier this year. The homophobic and racist flyers had crossed-out rainbow flags and showed confederate flags. The school’s initial reaction to the flyers was a disaster. It forbade both confederate flags and rainbow flags, and clothing with messages supporting LGBTQ equality were banned. The teacher who supported the Gay-Straight Alliance was no longer welcome to come to work.
Homophobia and racism combined
This past March, students at McCormick Junior High School in Cheyenne, Wyoming, handed out flyers and taped them to hallways. Some of the flyers had anti-LGBTQ messages like a rainbow flag crossed out and “It’s great to be straight. It’s not OK to be gay.” Others were racist, displaying the Confederate flag and messages like “Black lives matter only because if it weren’t for them who would pick our cotton” and “Join the KKK.”
The school did not know how to handle the situation. While investigating the flyers, school administrators pulled GSA members out of class and questioned them in front of police officers. One parent said that the kids felt really intimidated and were crying.
Superintendent Boyd Brown said they felt like two opposing sides were escalating the situation. By saying this he blamed the students who were victims protesting discrimination as perpetrators.
Solution: hiring a consultant
Of course, the response to the schools complete denial of the issues at hand was strong. Forbidding both discrimination AND non-discrimination does not make sense and pretend non-discrimination is as reprehensible as racism and homophobia.
The school district now finished a report on diversity and harassment at the school. The plan includes hiring a diversity and cultural awareness counselor and more employee training. The superintendent said that they have a pretty good plan to try to work on all of that . His vague and insecure description and apparent lack of vision does not raise hopes that the plan will provide effective solutions. In addition, the school refused to release the full report because part of it contained names of students involved. Several news organizations have filed a suit to get it released.