High school Leadership Academy for Social Justice teaches students to view systems of oppression through ‘social justice movement lens’


The Leadership Academy for Social Justice, a special program of Walt Whitman High School in Montgomery County, Maryland, includes in its mission statement:

“Students will interrogate and interrupt structures and biases that impede equity and access.”

The academy’s core principles include “identity,” “diversity,” “justice” and “action.” According to the program website, the reason for teaching social justice includes affirming “student identities,” “to celebrate diversity,” “to teach justice,” and “to inspire action.”

The program’s “Intro to Social Justice” course introduces students to “social justice work.” One unit of study include viewing “Systems of Oppression” and the “Origins of Race/Racism” through a “Social Justice Movement Lens.” Another unit titled “Intersectionality: Intersections of Racism, Classism, Sexism, Islamophobia, Xenophobia, & Homophobia” asks students how they are “regularly interrogating and reflecting on intersectional identity, power, and positionality?”

Another course titled African American Studies features a unit titled “Institutions, Society, and Systemic Racism.” The essential question associated with the unit asks students “How have political, social, and economic institutions established and perpetuated multiple levels of racism towards African-Americans?”

A part of academy programming, titled “OneWhitman,” is a period that serves “as the foundation to discuss our beliefs and values.” The 45-minute class period featured sessions titled “Ableism,” “Events of Kenosha WI,” “Four Levels of Racism” and “Microaggressions.”

In an email response regarding the high school’s use of affinity groups, the principal stated that “Our community and school periodically hold affinity group meetings. However, no parent is excluded from our meetings.”