Jessica Brady- The words of the young adults at Stroudsburg High. Are the student’s words not enough?
Written by Jessica Brady Junior year at Stroudsburg High School
My name is Jessica Brady, I am in my Junior year at Stroudsburg High School, and I am here tonight to speak on the board’s recent decision to disband the District Level DEI Committee. I am proud to be a part of the Stroudsburg Area School District. I have been a member of this school district since I was 5 years old at Arlington Elementary School. I am a four-year member of the marching band, I lead several clubs within the high school, and participate in many others. However, I believe that being proud and blindly proud are two different things. I choose to recognize that this district has its flaws. I was happy when I heard that something district-level was being formed to help curb the ignorance and hatred that exists within our schools. I am a lesbian. Growing up, I always heard kids joking about how “gay” or “faggy” something was in school. I still hear these comments made in school. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard the entire f slur dropped. I was never given LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education. I’ve had classmates of mine, and continue to have classmates of mine voice anti-gay rhetoric. I have classmates of mine who believe that being gay is a morally wrong, reversible choice. I’ve even had classmates who have said that they don’t even understand why gay people need to exist. But my most shocking experience came from someone who was not a student, but a substitute teacher. The situation happened around a year ago, and has since been handled, but what happened really affected the way that I view our district. This substitute made false statements about the LGBTQ Community, regarding community acceptance and tolerance of pedophilia. The LGBTQ Community has never, and will never support pedophilia, but this substitute told my class otherwise. If you take an already vulnerable, underrepresented group of people, and spread false information about them, it makes them even more vulnerable, and even a potential target. I know this district inside and out. We live in a small town in Pennsylvania that was predominantly white until recently. There are many people who have embraced our newfound diversity. But there are also many people who frown upon this same diversity and will stop at nothing to make sure that Stroudsburg remains dominated by straight, white people. The decision that the board made at the last meeting did nothing but feed into these efforts. You can’t disband a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, and then try to throw together a new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee that allows all of the racists and homophobes in! A new “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” Committee that is full of people who oppose diversity, equity, and inclusion in every single sense of those words, is not a solution- it’s completely and utterly pointless. Please know that when you make the decision to strip back protections, you are indirectly giving a green light to those in the district who feel the need to discriminate against minority groups. You are allowing hateful people to have the power to make the decisions that are supposed to help keep POC, LGBTQ+ people, handicapped and neurodivergent people, and non-Christians safe. You are counteracting the entire purpose and mission of this committee. I can’t help but wonder if this whole committee was passed by the board to just serve as one big publicity stunt to help get rid of the negative publicity and backlash last year. One of the biggest phrases that this district loves to preach is that “hate has no home” in their schools. But it does- hate exists throughout our country, our state, and our town. It is unbelievably ignorant to think that this hatred disappears the second we enter a district school because we all want it to. If you truly want “hate to have no home here”, you, as a school board, should be putting actions behind your words. Not all students feel safe in your schools. Until they do, I don’t believe that you have done your job. The safety, well-being, and equal treatment of all students should always be your top priority. Thank you for your time. I hope you choose to make the right decision.