Farragut Middle School in the Westchester School District sent a letter home to families about its plans to again host race-based affinity groups. The group is for students who “self-identity as Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color (BIPOC)” and, according to the letter, is in its 4th year. The letter says that Farragut Middle School’s affinity group “looks forward to connecting with the high school and elementary school affinity groups, ” so it’s safe to assume that these race-based groupings are happening at other schools in the district. The group meets once a month.
The middle school also appears to have an “Affinity Club” based on affinity groups, according to the letter. The school officials state: “In our first three years, all FMS students were invited to participate in activities organized by the Affinity Club, such as the mural project and movie and pizza nights.” They also explain that the middle school will “continue our No Place For Hate (NPFH) club from last year, which is open to all students.”
The letter promotes the No Place for Hate project and Learning for Justice. The “No Place for Hate” project is operated by the notoriously political organization Anti-Defamation League (ADL). In a document for the “No Place for Hate” project, the ADL states that “although learning how to demonstrate kindness is an important part of a child’s psychological and social development, ADL highly encourages schools to move beyond kindness to social justice.” One section of the document is titled “Let’s Get It Right: Using Correct Pronouns and Names.” In this section, the document encourages teachers to use the preferred pronouns of students:
From an early age, many were taught that pronouns should follow specific rules along the gender binary: ‘she, her and hers’ for girls and women and ‘he, him and his’ for boys and men. However, as our society has progressed in understanding gender identity, our language must also be updated. It should be accurate and convey understanding and respect for all people, especially for those who are transgender, gender non-conforming and non-binary.
The document then encourages teachers to implement “LGBTQ” topics into classroom discussions:
Using the lesson below, lead a discussion about the ways in which LGBTQ people, events and issues have been less visible or made invisible in mainstream accounts of history. Explore the impact of invisibility on people and how different groups have been historically marginalized in society. Then, engage students in a discussion about people who may feel invisible in their school. Be sure to focus on general identity characteristics (e.g., sexual orientation, immigration status, gender identity, etc.) rather than specific individuals. Based on this discussion, ask students to sign up to be interviewed if they feel like an aspect of their identity needs more visibility.
The “No Place for Hate” document also features a “Pyramid of Hate.” The ADL uses the document to explain that “while every biased attitude or act does not lead to genocide, each genocide has been built on the acceptance of attitudes and actions described at the lower levels of the Pyramid.” The pyramid intends to show that actions such as using “non-inclusive language” and committing “microaggressions” will possibly lead to “the act or intent to deliberately and systematically annihilate an entire people.”
Below is the No Place for Hate Coordinator and Resource Guide for 2021-2022.