On March 24, I wrote to share South’s plan to begin a school-wide conversation on issues of race, bias, and gender identity. The exercise is designed to engage and educate students on the impact of language and actions. Students began by working with English teachers to establish a definition of hate speech and to conduct a survey to better understand the existing culture within our school.
If you missed it, this is a link to my March 24 letter.
Over 1300 students responded to our survey. A preliminary review identifies areas in which the South culture can improve as we move toward our goal of becoming a supportive and welcoming environment for ALL students. Our next step is for students to help analyze the results and to suggest next steps for both themselves and the school. These lessons were designed by a team of Newton South teachers, and will be delivered in history classes over the next several weeks.
I imagine these conversations may be difficult for all students, especially those who have been hurt by hateful language. Our educational goal is to thoroughly explore the relationship between the intent of speech compared to the impact of the speech. I ask that you support our work together by talking with your children about the importance of understanding that even if the intent is not to do harm, the impact of bias or hate speech can work to undermine the safety and connection we want students to feel as members of the South community.
As always, if you have any concerns about your child, please contact your guidance counselor or house Dean.
And thank you for your support!