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Opinion: Hate Speech Has No Place in School

letter to the editorThis letter was sent to Scarsdale10583 by Scarsdale High School sophomore Molly Flicker:
Most would agree that Scarsdale High School is one of America’s finest public high schools with a reputation for excellence both academically and civically. As a student at the school I can see that SHS values individuality, and with that comes freedom of speech.

However, there is an important distinction between the right of expression and hate speech, which cannot be tolerated. In my view, schools should create environments in which students feel safe and welcome. Education is precious and it is the responsibility of the school, the students and their parents, and the community generally to vigorously protect it. Therefore, I found it both abhorrent and unacceptable that swastikas were found engraved in the bathrooms at SHS on multiple occasions. Within the past years Scarsdale High School has discovered hate symbols in the bathrooms on two separate instances. The first instance occurred on September 12th when students discovered hate symbols sketched in the toilet paper holders on the bathrooms. On September 26, another swastika and hate speech was found in a stall of a boys’ restroom. In a recent email sent to the community in regard to this issue Principal Bonamo explained that it would be very difficult to identify the individuals that created these symbols. Hate symbols such as the one drawn recently - the swastika, have a substantial negative stigma surrounding them as well as years of historical and political meaning. While the school may not be able to discover the motives behind the individual(s) who made these symbols, I think it is our job as a community to better educate our peers on the power of these actions and the historic meaning of the swastika, to avoid future offenses.

One high school sophomore said, “I was shocked to hear about the recent discovery of hate speech in the high school bathrooms. I am disappointed that members of our community would do that. However, I am glad that Principal Bonamo is taking actions to prevent these types of issues from reoccurring.” Another student said, “I would like to believe that instances like these are due to ignorance rather than pure hatred. It is the job of the community to educate our companions and be proactive in these situations to prevent them from continuing.”

While students appeared to be very disappointed that these symbols were drawn, most students believe this was likely the work of an individual or a small group of people and does not represent the views of the wider student body.

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