Mateo Konklin- The words of the young adults at Stroudsburg High. Are the student’s words not enough?
written by Mateo Konklin
Hello, My name is Mateo Konklin and I am a sophomore at Stroudsburg High school. I’ve been going to Stroudsburg for about 5 years. In 5th grade, when I first moved to this district, I was shocked by the diversity in the school. Coming from a school that was all white, with very few exceptions, this was a culture shock to me. I was proud to be a part of a district in which the student body had so much diversity. Quickly, it was made clear that our district did not want to embrace this diversity. Unfortunately, my non-white friends were not treated the same as I was, whether it was by teachers, staff members, or other peers. My teachers would preach about how lucky we all are for being in such a diverse school but would then turn and make a multitude of microaggressions toward students of color. Teachers would see me as brighter and more put together than my non-white peers. I have moved into higher classes ahead of my non-white peers, even though they had the same intelligence, grades, and work ethic. The only difference between us was in our skin color!
On top of the racial inequity in the district, I’ve also witnessed and experienced much homophobia. As a gender non-conforming student in our district, hearing stories about teachers being disrespectful to students requesting that they use their preferred name and pronouns was terrifying to me. Going into this year, I planned on not asking any of my teachers to use my correct name, and instead, I planned on putting up with being misgendered constantly. I simply didn’t want my teacher to treat me as less than my cisgender peers. Walking through the halls, I fear certain students, because I know their opinion on transgender individuals. In history classes, I hear my classmates argue that same-sex couples don’t deserve the same rights as heterosexuals. How are LGBTQ+ students expected to get the same education and experience as their peers if we are in a constant state of fear while in school? And how is the decision to disband or “reorganize” the Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion Committee going to make any progress within the school? This school has the phrase “hate has no home here” painted everywhere they can, but actions speak louder than words, and this decision shows the student body that the phrase is nothing more than a deceitful stunt.