The NAACP’s mission is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.
Jeanetta Williams, president of the Salt Lake branch of the NAACP, said that there should not be fear for any student to attend school. There needs to be outreach to students to educate them about cultural sensitives.
“Hate crimes do not just impact the individual, but they have an effect on the family, friends, and ultimately the community,” said Williams.
Utah school district officials shared some examples of what they have seen within their own schools, to include racial slurs, normalization of racially driven conversation, differently abled, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students feeling unsafe. Many also noted there was a lack of minorities enrolling in AP and honors classes and difficulty hiring diverse teachers in the classroom. It was agreed that all of these issues were intensified due to social media.
Superintendents expressed that some of these concerns come from students having a fear of the unknown and a lack of perception for those who may look or feel differently.
The take-away message from the NAACP was to not ignore or marginalize the issue, but instead educate. Also, instead of removing students out of the school for disciplinary actions, instead find ways to keep them in school, “don’t chastise, instead educate.”
All students want to be treated fairly and feel accepted. Tooele County School District has started a District Culture-Climate-Safety Committee with a group of students and staff that will recognize and address some of the concerns seen in schools.