CANTON — There will be a “call to action” against hate speech at Canton Central School at 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 9 in the High School Library during public comments at the school board meeting.
Lauren Diop, one of the organizers of the call to action, said she is part of a group of parents who are looking for change and action.
“What’s happening here isn’t anything different than what’s happening everywhere else,” she said.
“There’s a lot of hateful language used in the halls and in the cafeteria, which is bullying, but it’s also often racially or religiously motivated.”
She said that students and parents feel as though these forms of hate aren’t being adequately addressed by the school.
“We know that there’s teachers and people in the school who really care, but we feel like their ‘no tolerance’ policy for hateful language or bullying isn’t enough; we need to see actionable steps taken to enforce that policy,” she said.
In a Facebook post offering information about the meeting, Ms. Diop said “students are facing hate speech daily, and there has yet to be a clear plan of action conveyed to students, parents, or the community on how these incidents are being addressed.”
In the post, she enjoins members of the public to come show solidarity, to make a public statement, and to write a letter to the board.
She encourages “anyone who cares about the social and emotional well-being and safety of ALL students at school” to come to the meeting.
“Canton PEEPS,” she said, “We love our school community AND also see an urgent need for clear and direct action to address daily incidents of hate speech in school.”
“We want ALL students to feel safe and comfortable. Please get involved in some way. Share this post, come to the board meeting Dec. 9, speak at the meeting, and write a letter to the Superintendent.”
“Most importantly,” she said, “PLEASE talk to your children about how to safely stand up and speak up for others and that bystanders have the power of numbers.”
“We know there is more love than hate in our community, so please join us in being a louder force of acceptance and inclusion than the hateful treatment students are currently experiencing.”
On Nov. 17, School Superintendent Ronald P. Burke wrote a post on the Canton Central School District Facebook page recognizing the work the district has to do “in order to create a school community that is more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.”
“We are listening to the accounts of students, alumni, and community members whose experiences demonstrate an immediate need for us to do better,” he wrote.
He said if any student should ever be on the receiving end of hateful speech or behavior, to notify any teacher or staff member so that it can be addressed and stopped.