San Dieguito Academy Newspaper

Photo by Evan Ballow

Statement prompts, like the ones displayed on this poster, helped guide forum discussion

SDA Forum Highlights BIPOC and LQBTQ+ voices

Students had the opportunity to share their stories publicly or anonymously

February 23, 2022

Students gathered in the quad at the PAC stage Friday during lunch to participate in the open-mic format SDA Forum. The meeting, hosted by the SDA Hispanic and Black Student Unions, M.A.C. (Multicultural Anti-Racism Coalition), GSA (Gender-Sexuality Alliance), and AVID, gave SDA students the chance to share their experiences with discrimination on campus. It also gave them a platform to suggest changes to promote inclusion and understanding directly to administration. Anonymous statements, which were read to the audience, could also be submitted to maintain privacy.

Throughout the meeting, many students shared that they feel uncomfortable at school for several reasons. They gave firsthand accounts of racism and discrimination directed towards themselves and their fellow classmates, and expressed discomfort regarding the two vandalism hate crimes on campus. Additionally, they questioned SDA Administration’s responses to the incidents, raising concerns that there wasn’t enough done to educate the student body. Students also challenged faculty to ensure that they feel safe and respected while on campus: “I want teachers to know that we need your help having the hard conversations,” one anonymous student wrote. “Don’t leave us to fight bigotry in our DMS. 10 minutes of uncomfortable discussion in your classroom can save us a whole lot of heartache and frustration.” They added that students are feeling isolated from their peers and teachers, saying, “We are tired of advocating for ourselves. Hopefully in the future it will be a group effort with staff.”

Students also called upon teachers to make an effort to be inclusive with their language and pronoun use, and cited some instances where faculty didn’t respect preferred pronouns while in the classroom. Suggestions ranged from holding mandatory assemblies to get more students involved to implementing terms like AMAB (Assigned Male At Birth) and AFAB (Assigned Female At Birth) in biology/anatomy classrooms. “I hope SDA pushes their message of acceptance even more than they have,” said another anonymous student. “I hope SDA starts involving pride events and more murals/expressions of the support we have, so everyone feels safe regardless. Teaching everyone about how acceptance benefits all will push us forward as a school.” 

In total, the forum attracted well over 100 students and helped facilitate positive dialogue between students and administration. It seems that while SDA students are disappointed with the current climate on campus, they’re hopeful that we can work through these incidents, progressing as a school and helping to keep SDA a place to feel accepted and heard.

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